The growth in student numbers has not led to university entrants having lower qualifications.
An analysis, published today by Universities UK, shows that last year, the average student had 340 UCAS tariff points on entry (around BBB at A-level, plus C at AS level), compared to 313 tariff points in 2011 (between BBC and BCC at A-level, plus C at AS level).
390,000 people from the UK were accepted on full-time undergraduate courses at English higher education providers in 2017 – an increase of more than 100,000 in ten years.
The analysis, ‘Growth and choice in university admissions’, also shows that vocational qualifications, such as BTECs, are widely recognised in university admissions.
Alistair Jarvis, Universities UK Chief Executive, said the analysis shows the changing face of university admissions:
“Reforms to the university system have led to more students, greater choice for them and increased competition among universities. This analysis shows that university entrants continue to be highly qualified and increasing numbers of applicants are accepted with vocational qualifications at all types of universities. This has made it possible for people from a broader range of backgrounds to benefit from a university education.
“There are a growing range of university courses with a vocational focus, from traditional undergraduate degrees such as architecture and engineering to newer courses like degree apprenticeships in cyber security. In fact, four in ten university courses could be considered vocational in some way.”
On 5 December 2013, the government announced the cap on the number of UK and EU-domiciled undergraduates that English higher education institutions may recruit would be relaxed in 2014/15 and abolished in 2015/16. This meant limits on the total number of undergraduate students ended and has led to the expansion of higher education.
The UCAS Tariff is a means of allocating points to post-16 qualifications, based on a simple mathematical model which uses a qualification size and grading scale to generate a total number of points. The main purpose of the Tariff is to provide a broad metric for qualifications at Level 3/SCQF Level 6 to support university and college management information needs. All universities and colleges use the UCAS Tariff for submitting data returns to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Some universities and colleges will continue to use the Tariff as a tool to set their entry requirements and make offers
UCAS introduced a new tariff system in September 2017, the data used in ‘Growth and choice in university admissions’ uses the previous tariff for comparative purposes.