The government has said it will no longer consider post-qualification admissions, where students can apply to university after receiving their A-level results.
Speaking at an event organized by the Center for Policy Studies, Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan said post-qualification admissions were no longer under consideration.
“Having carefully considered all the replies [to the consultation on higher education] we have decided not to proceed with post-qualification admissions,” she said.
“Although it was an idea with noble intentions, the evidence was certainly not conclusive.
“There was also no consensus that it would be an overhaul or a fairer system for people from disadvantaged backgrounds,” she said.
She said the “major disruption” the change would cause would be “inappropriate” at a time when teachers and students were recovering from the effects of the pandemic.
Rachel Wolf, a member of Augar’s original panel and founding partner of Public First, said the right to lifelong learning announced on Thursday meant more people would get into higher education.
“What we’re actually announcing here is something to slightly increase the number of people who at some point in their lives are actively studying,” she said.
Ms Donelan said the changes would make the higher education system more sustainable and that “it’s not about numbering how many more will enter higher education”.
The news comes following a government announcement that students will start repaying their loans at a £25,000 salary threshold over 40 years rather than 30 years from September 2023.
Ms Donelan said that from 2025 students will be eligible for loans to study individual modules of degree courses, creating an “accessible and flexible pathway” for people of all ages to continue their education.
“Above all, it’s a system that will support a culture of lifelong learning,” she said.
During the Lifetime Loan Entitlement consultation, each new student will receive an entitlement equivalent to £37,000 for four years of study, which could be covered as a standard degree or through separate modules.
Ms Donelan said the modules could be used as “building blocks” throughout an individual’s life to create a degree.
She said the modules could be co-designed with companies and the transfer of accreditation would be explored as part of the consultation.
Ms Donelan said potential age limits for the right would also be explored.
Asked whether the minimum entry requirements would prevent some students without the university’s GCSE English and maths permit, Ms Donelan said the consultation was at a ‘discussion stage and it is not s is not about prohibiting anyone from pursuing higher education”.
“In fact, what we want to do is improve these second-chance opportunities like the preparatory years and make sure that everyone who is thinking about higher education is not pushed into it before they are ready,” said she declared.
She added that people from disadvantaged backgrounds were twice as likely to drop out of classes as their peers.
She said the consultation also covered a minimum requirement of two E grades at A level with “many exemptions”.
She said the changes would mean an end to the growth of what she described as poor quality degrees where “we have low levels of completion rates”.
“I think your minimum expectation, when you make a significant financial and time investment in your life, is that you’re likely to get the support you need to complete the course, and second that it will lead to graduate employment,” she said. noted.
There are arguments for and against such a system, but its potential merits include putting students in a stronger position when applying for courses with their results in hand.
Asked about London Economics’ analysis that the average man would save £2,000 from these reforms, Ms Donelan said that ‘absolutely’ did not mean poorer female graduates would suffer and that ‘the general principle behind all this is that no student will repay more in real terms than he has borrowed”.
Sir Philip Augar, author of the Higher Education Funding Review, said the announcement of funds for lifelong learning was an “absolutely potential game-changer” and the start of a “system correctly connected”.
He asked whether higher education and higher education would “participate in each other” as part of the law, and Ms Donelan said the sectors would have to work together to be successful.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the decision to reject the PQA “seems like a missed opportunity” that seemed “to have been put in the drawer too hard”.
“There are arguments for and against such a system, but its potential merits include putting students in a stronger position when applying for courses with their results in hand,” he said.
“It could also address the difficulty of providing accurate predicted scores, the subjective nature of personal statements, and the excessive use of unconditional offers in recent years,” he added.
Mr Barton said the ASCL recognized there were “significant logistical implications” in introducing post-qualification admissions and that “if nothing else, the idea has now been carefully considered”.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said at the event: “It is difficult to start today without reflecting on the events that unfolded overnight in Ukraine.”
“Some of you know that my parents and I lived through and endured a despotic dictator who preyed on his neighbors and tried to invade his neighbors.
“The only thing I can tell you is that they will never prevail – they will fail, and (Vladimir) Putin will fail.
“And the determination of the UK, the European Union, NATO to support the people of Ukraine at this difficult time, is unyielding.”