UK education system as level

Change the UK’s education system to put young people first

Students get their A-level results at a further education college in LondonStudents get their A-level results at a further education college in London. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA

Many students who have missed out on their anticipated grades will now enter the clearing process. This often chaotic exercise is a peculiarity of a system built on unreliable predictions rather than solid outcomes.

It’s time for a rethink. A recent survey by the University and College Union showed real appetite for change among those working in university admissions. Seven out of 10 respondents supported a move to post-qualification admissions, which would see students applying for university places after finding out their A-level results.

This would be simpler – no need for clearing and adjustment when predictions prove wrong – and fairer, because students would be selected on the back of tangible results rather than optimistic estimates. Changing a system is never easy, but when the stakes are so high we must put young people first.
Sally Hunt
General secretary, UCU

• The publication of A-level results highlights the low proportion of students studying physics, design and technology and ICT, crucial engineering gateway subjects. If we don’t reverse this trend thousands of young people are effectively closing the door on an exciting, creative career as an engineer. There continues to be huge demand for engineers so it is important that young people continue their studies into higher education. The UK needs more people studying science and engineering subjects at university and taking up apprenticeships.

We are at risk of stifling economic growth if we do not encourage more students to study Stem subjects which are crucial to ensuring a healthy and balanced economy.

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