Posted on 4th August 2012
Ucas Loses Points
Although it was a few years ago now, I still vividly remember being in year 13 and applying to universities, writing my personal statement and figuring out how to log on to Ucas. Where things get a bit misty is around the Ucas points system. I do recall being told by our head of Sixth Form that you were awarded a certain number of points for each grade that you achieved. However, I think this was the extent of my involvement with Ucas points. I knew that they were supposed to act as a guideline for which courses you would be eligible for, but I -and I don’t think I was alone – tended to look instead at which A Level subjects were required and whether offers were likely to be ‘AAA’ or ‘AAB’ and so on. Personally, Ucas points didn’t feature a great deal in my application process, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
As reported by the BBC, Ucas are likely to abandon the points system, after a great deal of criticism from students, schools and universities. 63.5% of people asked in a recent survey carried out by Ucas said that they were in favour of changing the current tariff system. Many believe that it is not clear and helpful enough to applicants.
Currently, most universities use the grade and subject system in favour of points anyway, but soon this will be supported by Ucas, who have announced that, “It was widely felt that qualification and grade-based entry requirements and offers are clearer and more transparent for learners and offer those higher education providers who actively select applicants for their courses greater control over admissions.”
Critics of the new proposals say that it will lead to students narrowing their options and focusing on subjects that they believe are more likely to lead them to specific university courses. To me, this seems like no bad thing at all. A Level choices are important, and certainly do lead to which degree courses you are eligible for. I can’t imagine that anyone wants to choose certain subjects at A Level and then realize that they can’t do their dream course at university because they haven’t studied the right things so far.
From September, Ucas will be consulting universities and colleges and composing new plans. There will be a “gradual withdrawal” of the current points system, and “greater use of qualifications and grades”. In reality, I think this is unlikely to make an enormous difference to students, although I am intrigued to see how the new system unfolds.