Unconditional university offers let students ‘take their foot off the gas’, says University Policy Director

Unconditional university offers let students ‘take their foot off the gas’, says University Policy Director

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Nick Hillman, the Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute has said that “the explosion” of unconditional offers for university places means students make the “mistake” of “taking their foot off the gas”.

A group of university and school leaders are calling for unconditional offers to be regulated as it “reduces the quality of sixth-form life in schools”.

Mr Hillman told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “It probably does make a difference when they get to university. The really big explosion in the number of unconditional offers is so new that we cannot prove that absolutely.

“A mistake that a lot of sixth form students make is that they think they can work less hard with an unconditional offer.

“Your school exam results stay on your CV for decades. You can be applying for jobs in your 30s and people still want to know how you did in you’re A levels.”

He added: “It is teachers in particular that hate these unconditional offers because what they say is their students set to take their A levels next summer, take their foot off the gas when they know they have got a guaranteed place at university.

“They stop working hard for the A levels and that is one of the biggest concerns.”


'Clever tactics' 

Mr Hillman added that these unconditional offers then could be detrimental into students’ careers too.

“Different employers use different recruitment strategies. Some of the really big employers have clever pieces of software that simply move people into the delete folder if they haven’t hit certain grade boundaries,” he said.

“But, it does depend what sort of job you are getting for.”

Mr Hillman described unconditional offers as a “clever tactic” used by universities to recruit students.

“They are operating in a competitive market in the way that they did not used to,” he said.

“The Government used to tell every university how many students to recruit. Now, it is a free-for-all so they are using all sorts of clever tactics to get their students.

“In my view there is nothing wrong in principle with an unconditional offer but where problems happen is when a 17-year-old feels pressure to accept an offer from a university that actually would not be their first choice.

“Universities are trying to get to the head of the queue in a 17-year-old’s mind to get to the top of UCAS applications.”