Universities Set New Standards for Sixth-Formers

Article excerpt

RADICAL REFORMS of university entrance requirements familiar to generations of sixth-formers are being proposed at some of Britain's most respected universities.

The universities plan to replace the traditional prerequisites of three A-level results with a range of "pick-and-mix" qualifications, according to guidelines being sent to students. The new system, a response to reformed A-level syllabuses, is due to be introduced in September. Sixth formers will study four or five AS-levels, each worth half an A-level, in the lower sixth, before "topping up" two or three subjects to a full A-level a year later.

Proposed offers vary considerably between universities, with some asking for three A-levels plus an extra AS, while others are planning to accept students who have taken a range of combinations.

At Manchester University, offers in most subjects will be based on just two full A-levels, backed up with an extra two half-size AS- level exams. In a minority of degrees, only one full A-level will be required alongside a series of AS exams.

Applicants to Southampton will have a choice of offering three A- levels and one AS or two A-levels plus three AS exams. Birmingham is looking for the equivalent of three A- levels taken in the upper sixth, although academics will accept two A-levels and two AS- levels if they are all taken in the same year.

Dr John Ash, director of admissions at Birmingham, said the new curriculum would "open the doors to widening participation" among students from poor backgrounds.

New "vocational A-levels", brought in to replace the old GNVQ subjects, will also be introduced, alongside the "key skills" qualifications, which include subjects such as communications and computing. …