UCAS has put forward plans to radically overhaul the existing University application process.
Under new proposals students would apply for University after they had received their results as opposed to the current system where students submit their applications at least seven months prior to receiving their results.
A review of the application system concluded the current system, which asks universities to offer places based on predicted grades, asks students to make choices about their future before they are ready.
“The cumulative effect of predicted grades, insurance choices and Clearing have led to a system that is complex, is thought to lack transparency for many applicants and is inefficient and cumbersome for higher education institutions,” a UCAS document said.
The proposed system – which would not be in place until 2016 at the earliest – would see students sit their A-Levels earlier before applying for university over the summer. Courses would then start in mid-October.
The application process would be split into ‘three windows’:
• Apply :1 would be open for students who already have their results (for example those that have taken their exams the year before).
• Apply 2: would be the main part of the process, opening at the end of June with all offers and replies complete by the third week in September. Students could apply for two choices for which they have met the requirements and submit different personal statements for each.
• Apply 3: would open from the fourth week in July, with all offers complete by the first week in October, for those not holding any offers from Apply 2 or for those applying after Apply 2 has closed. Applicants would apply to one university at a time.
Teaching unions and university officials gave a cautious welcome to the proposals, which have been put out for consultation until January 20 2012.
Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said: “Predicted grades are never completely reliable and at the moment students are forced to narrow their options far too early in the process.
“Changing the system will require effort and adjustment on the part of Schools, Colleges, Universities, Exam boards and UCAS, but it is in the best interest of our young people.”
The National Union of Students (NUS) said it hoped universities would give the document “careful consideration”.
Usman Ali, NUS vice president for higher education, said: “The evidence shows that applicants from poorer backgrounds are more likely to exceed their predicted grades.
“We have long supported moves towards Post Qualification Application (PQA) and these proposals require careful and measured consideration, not knee-jerk reactions.”