UCAS forms should include school exam results to help disadvantaged students

Proposals could help admissions staff to identify higher-performing students at weaker schools.

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University application forms should include information on how an applicant’s classmates performed to put their exam achievement in context, the sector’s largest union has said.

The University and College Union (UCU) has called for UCAS to provide additional information on the GCSE scores found at an applicant’s school.

The union says that publishing the percentage of students at an applicant’s school who achieve five GCSEs or more at grades of A* and A, including English and maths, could enable admissions officers to identify higher-performing students at weaker schools.

Other recommendations from the UCU include a review of the use of interviews and greater training to eradicate “unconscious bias”.

The organisation also wants a ban on universities making unconditional offers prior to the publication of A-level results.

The charter follows the publication in January of the results of a survey of more than 2,000 staff involved in university admissions.

Unconditional offers were described by respondents as “grossly unfair”, “irresponsible” and a “betrayal of schoolteachers…trying to encourage their students to engage with school work”.

70% of admissions staff surveyed also backed a move to post-qualifications applications (PQA) – another recommendation made in the UCU charter.

However, this has been rejected decisively by the sector on multiple occasions over the past 20 years.

UCAS said its contextual data service already include information on the proportion of students achieving A*-C at GCSE by school.

A spokesperson told Times Higher Education: “If there was sufficient demand from the sector, and the Department for Education can provide the data, then we could include further information within the package of the contextual data we supply.”

A major consultation and review held in 2012, which considered moving to a post-qualifications application system, showed that there was little appetite for overhauling the current system.

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