A university in London will no longer make unconditional offers to school leavers in a bid to "maintain standards".

A student has completed his / her A-level grades.

The number of unconditional offers made to prospective students has soared, prompting fears that university are sacrificing standards.

The rise has prompted calls for the admissions system to be overhauled, as critics say they risk distracting students during their final year at school.

Sam Gyimah, University Minister, formerly called the rise "irresponsible" and warned that they were "bums on seats" undermined the credibility of the higher education system.

John Brewer, vice-chancellor for St Mary's University, said the institution was "determined to maintain standards of entry" and had decided to withdraw unconditional offers for 2018/19.

He said, "It's clear that we have a lot of students who have not been able to do it." ,

"By listening to the views of schools, teachers, our own staff and students, we believe that with the evidence that has been made the right decision."

An unconditional offer means a student has a place on a degree course secured, regardless of the grade they achieve in their A levels or other qualifications.

More than a quarter (23 per cent) of 18-year-old university applicants from England, Wales and Northern Ireland received at least one unconditional offer in 2018, recent Ucas figures show.

The data thus reveals that 67,915 unconditional offers have been made to 18-year-olds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland this year – up from less than 3,000 just five years ago.

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Headteachers have urgent universities to stop the practice, arguing that such offers can lead to less effort in their A levels. Once they have secured a guaranteed place.

In an interview with The Independent earlier this year, Clare Marchant, head of the universities and colleges admissions service (Ucas), called for an urgent rethink of the practice.

Matt Waddup, head of policy and campus at UCU, said, "The decision by St Mary's demonstrates the desperate need for overhaul our failing admissions system.

"We are alone in the world in persisting with a system where students are offered university places based on highly inaccurate predicted grades."

He added: 'Unconditional offers have made a mockery of exams and led to inflated grade predictions, while putting students under pressure to make a snap decision about their future.

"The simplest and fairest way to deal with these problems is to adopt a system of post-qualification admissions, where offers are based on actual achievement rather than estimated potential."



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