News, Culture & Society

Stop using unconditional offers to bribe students, Education Secretary warns university bosses 


Buying or leasing a car in the UK? Check MOT of car before you do.

Unconditional offers for university students must end, says Education Secretary Gavin Williamson as he accuses institutions of using them to ‘bribe’ candidates

  • Education Secretary wants the number of unconditional university offers cut
  • Gavin Williamson says grade inflation has become ‘even more entrenched’
  • He says there was ‘nothing to justify’ the ‘explosion’ in unconditional offers

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson yesterday told universities to stop using unconditional offers to bribe students.

He will clamp down on the controversial recruitment tactics and suggested institutions could also face tighter restrictions on other entry requirements.

Mr Williamson urged higher education institutions to get a grip on admissions policies and grade inflation, which risks undermining universities’ reputations. 

The Education Secretary wants a cut in unconditional offers – place offers irrespective of grades. Unconditional offers have shot up from 3,000 in 2013 to 76,000 this year and a quarter of students now get at least one [File photo]

He also told the Universities UK (UUK) annual conference in Birmingham to stop making ‘conditional unconditional’ offers.

This is when a student gets a conditional offer but, if they agree to make that institution their first choice, it is converted to an unconditional offer, making their results irrelevant. 

Mr Williamson said this can stop disadvantaged teenagers going to the ‘very best academic institutions’ possible.

His remarks were followed by an announcement by Birmingham University that it would be ditching the practice. 

Mr Williamson said there was ¿nothing to justify¿ the ¿explosion¿ in unconditional offers. He urged higher education institutions to get a grip on admissions policies and grade inflation, which risks undermining universities¿ reputations [File photo]

Mr Williamson said there was ‘nothing to justify’ the ‘explosion’ in unconditional offers. He urged higher education institutions to get a grip on admissions policies and grade inflation, which risks undermining universities’ reputations [File photo]

The university was the largest on a list of the worst offenders published by the government in April.

Mr Williamson also wants a cut in unconditional offers – place offers irrespective of grades. Unconditional offers have shot up from 3,000 in 2013 to 76,000 this year and a quarter of students now get at least one.

He said current reviews of admissions by UUK and universities regulator the Office for Students (OfS), are ‘an opportunity for the sector to get its house in order, perhaps by agreeing a minimum predicted grade threshold or a maximum proportion who may be offered one’.

This could force institutions to only issue unconditional offers to the brightest who have achieved high enough predicted grades.

Alternatively, universities could only be allowed to make these offers to a certain percentage, capping numbers.

Gavin Williamson will clamp down on the controversial recruitment tactics and suggested institutions could also face tighter restrictions on other entry requirements. He also told the Universities UK (UUK) annual conference in Birmingham to stop making ¿conditional unconditional¿ offers [File photo]

Gavin Williamson will clamp down on the controversial recruitment tactics and suggested institutions could also face tighter restrictions on other entry requirements. He also told the Universities UK (UUK) annual conference in Birmingham to stop making ‘conditional unconditional’ offers [File photo]

Mr Williamson said there was ‘nothing to justify’ the ‘explosion’ in unconditional offers, adding: ‘We want to see that coming down. We’ll be working with the OfS and UUK.’

Mr Williamson added: ‘Grade inflation has become even more entrenched. When I was at university, you could count the number on my course who got firsts on one hand.

‘Now it seems they are ten a penny. In 1997 – which is when I graduated – 50 per cent of students gained a first or a 2:1; last year 80 per cent did.’

He added: ‘So we need to work together on these issues. If we don’t tackle them, your hard-won reputation for excellence will be undermined.

‘There is a risk that employers will lose faith in grades and foreign students will think twice about investing their time and money here.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.