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August, 2019:

Labour party backs overhaul of university admissions system (13 Aug 2019)

Labour Party backs overhaul of university admissions system

13 August 2019 | last updated: 14 August 2019

The Labour Party will overhaul university admissions so students apply to university after they get their results, it has announced today.

UCU, which has long campaigned for reform of university admissions, welcomed the move and said it was time the UK caught up with the rest of the world by basing offers on actual achievement rather than guesswork.

The union said that shifting to a post-qualifications admissions (PQA) system – where people apply to university after they get their results – would deal with the problem of inaccurate grade predications, put an end to the chaotic clearing system and level the playing field for students.

UCU said the change would also make unconditional offers and “conditional unconditional offers” – where a student is only guaranteed a place if they list the university as their first choice – redundant.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘We have long called for an overhaul of university admissions and welcome Labour’s commitment to reform the system. Allowing people to apply after they receive their results would help level the playing field for students, remove the problems associated with unconditional offers and end the chaotic clearing scramble.

‘The current system, based on inaccurately predicted results, is failing students. It is time we adopted the type of system used around the rest of the world where university offers are based on actual achievements instead of guesswork.’

Almost two in five students (38%) received at least one unconditional offer this year, compared to a third (34%) last year and just 1% six years ago. Yet only one in six (16%) students’ A-level grades are predicted correctly.

No other countries use predicted grades to award university places, and seven in ten staff involved in university admissions back the move to a PQA system.

HE private provider goes bust July 2019

Controversial for-profit college goes bust leaving students stranded

31 July 2019 | last updated: 1 August 2019

GSM London has told students that all tuition, classes and exams would stop at the end of September

GSM London Рone of the largest for-profit private providers of higher education in England Рhas gone into administration, leaving students stranded on unfinished courses. GSM was one of the colleges that featured in a recent Panorama expose about fraudulent applications for student loan money. GSM is ultimately owned by the private equity firm Sovereign Capital and awarded degrees validated by the University of Plymouth.

Times Higher Education reported that GSM had been¬†awaiting a decision from the Office for Students on whether it would be included on the regulator’s register of providers. Exclusion from the register of providers would have meant losing access to publicly funded student loans for its students. Times Higher Education said it is thought that the OfS had concerns about the level of dropout rates at GSM and its financial position.

UCU acting general secretary Paul Cottrell said: ‘UCU has repeatedly highlighted concerns about the marketisation of education and the rapid increase in poorly regulated private providers. We hope that the government will now look again at the funding free-for-all among private providers. These private providers enjoy a competitive advantage in being under-regulated, but always put profit before education.’

Loss of skills minister (July 30 2019)

UCU responds to loss of skills minister

30 July 2019

UCU has said it does not believe axing the skills minister is a positive move.

The union was responding to news that former skills minister Anne Milton will not be replaced and that new education secretary Gavin Williamson will personally take on the skills brief. The new administration has appointed ministers to fill the schools and universities briefs. Last week Boris Johnson said further education was a priority.

UCU acting general secretary Paul Cottrell said: ‘We have gone from having a minister for skills last week to not having one now, unlike universities and schools who have kept theirs.

‘We shall have to wait and see if commitments from Boris Johnson in the leadership campaign translate into proper funding. We do not believe losing the dedicated skills minister is a positive step for further education or suggests the sector is held in high regard by the new administration.’