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Tuesday, November 3, 1998 Published at 09:46 GMT


University place race to be reformed

Proposed changes would mean taking A-levels earlier

Applications for university places will be made after A-level results rather than before, under proposals to be considered by schools and universities.

A working party of universities, examining boards, admissions services and schools is attempting to find ways of fitting the entire applications process between the A-level results and the beginning of the autumn term.

[ image: Applications would begin when students knew their A-level results]
Applications would begin when students knew their A-level results
This would mean the end of the summer 'clearing' race for places as students who have missed their required grades seek vacancies on other courses.

Instead pupils would know their own grades and the minimum requirements of courses before putting in applications, reducing the number of applications and administration.

It is likely that the reform would mean changes in the timing of A-levels and the beginning of the first university term, with a greater gap needed than the present six weeks or so.

New technology would also be likely to be necessary to speed up the exchange of results, applications and offers necessary for the allocation of over 300,000 places.

The working party has still to conclude its study, but it is expected to publish a draft report for consultation later this year.

A spokesman for the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals says that there is a general desire to make the system simpler by beginning the applications process after A-level results, but there are still "substantial hurdles".

Bringing forward A-level results, putting back university term dates and fitting in interviews were "by no means easy matters", but there was optimism that the working group would find a way for the changes to be introduced.

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