Applying for university is an important decision that is undertaken by students every year. Not all students want to take that path. For those who do, obtaining the necessary entry requirements can be stressful and difficult. It is ultimately rewarding if it is achieved, which most students do. However, according to the mobility charity ‘The Sutton Trust’, disadvantaged students are at a greater risk of missing out due to lower grade predictions by their teachers.
Predicted Grades are Working Against Disadvantaged Students
As it stands, university offers are based on the grades that are forecast for each individual student by their educators. The Sutton Trust argues that using predicted grades is working directly against talented applicants who are facing unfortunate circumstances. This is because disadvantaged students tend to have their results under predicted. As a result, these students are offered university places from their least desired institutions, or from courses they don’t want to study.
A System That Needs to be Changed
Overall, the discussion suggests that the application process would be much fairer if students were able to apply after they had received their final results. In theory, this could work for everyone. Studying to obtain the necessary entry grades can be extremely stressful for students. The pressure of trying to get into university can also be stressful for applicants. Not only that, high grade prediction could add to this. In contrast, lower predictive grades could act as a motivator, or could dishearten students who think they won’t succeed in getting their place at the university they desire.
During 2017, 73% of 18-year-olds managed to over-achieve when receiving their final results, compared to their predicted grades. By the time these results have arrived, many decisions will have already been made and students will be planning their next pathway. The Sutton Trust highlights a system that favours applicants who are more informed and have had the advantage of a wealthier upbringing and attending a high-achieving school. Either way, there isn’t much room for students to navigate following the release of their results. They may have changed their minds or lose interest for their course or attending university in general.
Clearing Offers the Chance of Change
Universities UK says that there is flexibility through clearing. The system itself operates after students have received their results. It works for students who achieve significantly worse or better grades overall. So, if they have more options or desire something different, it is possible for applicants to change in accordance to their situation.
Disadvantaged students are certainly in need of more impartial information, advice and guidance. In comparison to their better-off counterparts, they have less access to such help when they are applying for university. Furthermore, their circumstances mean that they will have a different educational experience thus need more support. This is probably the most required aspect of the application process. The system of predicted grades certainly need to be revised but students in whatever circumstances can change their mind. Students need to be made aware of all of the different options they can choose; including those alternatives to university.