UCAS tariff system likely to be scrapped

It’s probable that the points-based tariff system used by UCAS for students applying to some universities is to be dropped, following a UCAS report published earlier this month.

Universities would instead ask students for specific grades and qualifications for their various degree courses.

The UCAS report has suggested that two-thirds of those from schools and universities want the tariff system to be scrapped.

It is hoped that the new scheme could give students a clearer indication of what is needed to be accepted at certain institutions.

UCAS proposed the plans earlier this year and consulted schools, universities, awarding bodies and governmental and regulatory bodies.

Overall, 63.5 percent of respondents supported the plan, while 16.1 percent opposed the proposal.

UCAS concluded: “It was widely felt that qualification and grade-based entry requirements and offers are clearer and more transparent for learners and offer those higher education providers who actively select applicants for their courses greater control over admissions.”

Under the current tariff system, A-levels and other courses are given a certain number of points. Universities then make offers to students based on these points.

An Oxford University spokesperson said: “Oxford makes conditional offers based on grades alone, not tariff point equivalents […] whereas at other universities offers are made on tariff point equivalents.

“While Oxford would therefore not be significantly affected by the abolition in tariff points for the purposes of admissions, the move away from tariff point equivalents might provide more accurate data about attainment at A level by actual grade combination.

“This would be useful in helping many people understand the background to admissions at Oxford, which is attainment – and at Oxford attainment means AAA or better at A-level – not tariff point equivalents.”

There has also been concern that the current tariff system does not account for all of them growing number of different qualifications.

But there are concerns that the changes could lead to schools focusing on subjects most likely to win students places, and so narrowing their options. Schools could also put pressure on students to choose academic qualifications over vocational ones.

The report says that UCAS will decide whether to abolish the tariff system in September.

A UCAS spokesman said: “The UCAS board will make a decision on the tariff in September and we continue to work with institutions to understand how the recommendations we have put forward would impact them in the future.”