The Education Secretary has rejected MP Gavin Williamson’s proposal for students to apply to university once they have their results.
Nadhim Zahawi has ruled out implementing the “post-qualification admissions” model, in which students sign up for courses after receiving their A-level results.
The Telegraph revealed in 2020 that the idea was being floated by Mr Williamson when he was education secretary.
Potential benefits include better opportunities for disadvantaged students, as they tend to receive lower predicted grades than they go on to achieve. It was also thought it could help combat slacking among students who receive unconditional offers.
However, ministers have now concluded that the overhaul would cause “major disruption” and be poorly timed, given that teachers and students are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic.
Michelle Donelan, minister for higher and further education, said at a Centre for Policy Studies event on Thursday that having “carefully considered” responses to a consultation, “we have decided not to proceed with post-qualification admissions”.
She added: “Though an idea with noble intentions, the evidence certainly was not conclusive. Nor was there consensus that it would overhaul or be a fairer system for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Biggest university funding revamp for years
The decision comes as ministers published a series of new proposals this week – including the return of student number controls – aimed at limiting the huge cost of universities to the taxpayer and cracking down on low-quality degrees.
It marks the biggest shake-up to higher education funding in a decade. It also rows back on policies pioneered by the New Labour and the coalition governments, which sought to encourage as many students as possible to go to university.
Under the new plans, graduates will still be repaying their student loans into their 60s.
To ensure that a greater proportion of student loans are paid back, they should be written off after 40 rather than 30 years, according to one of the proposals.
Graduates will also be asked to start paying their loans back sooner, with the repayment threshold slashed from £27,295 to £25,000 under the plans which will be put out to consultation.