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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

How the Education Secretary is tackling unconditional offers

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Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at unconditional offers and the Education Secretary’s interview with TES.

Unconditional Offers

Today, Friday 5 April, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds has called for a review of university admissions procedures. This has received coverage from the Guardian, the Independent, the Times, the Telegraph, the Mail, the Sun, I News, the Mirror and more. The story was also covered on the Today Programme.

The Education Secretary has said that he will write to 23 institutions making ‘conditional unconditional’ offers. The practice of ‘conditional unconditional’ offers involves institutions making an unconditional offer to an applicant with the condition that they are made their first choice on UCAS. This is a practice that the Education Secretary is adamant should be discouraged.

The Education Secretary will be asking the Office for Students to take a comprehensive look at university admissions procedures, following these unacceptable practices and a growth of unconditional offers more widely.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

It is simply unacceptable for universities to adopt pressure-selling tactics, which are harming students’ grades in order to fill places. It is not what I expect to see from our world-class higher education institutions.

Conditional unconditional’ offers are damaging the reputation of the institutions involved and our world-leading sector as a whole. That is why I will be writing to 23 universities, urging them to stamp out this unethical practice.

But I am concerned about the wider picture of how some universities are getting students through their doors, so I am asking the OfS to look at how well  current admissions practices serve students and how they can be improved, so we can protect the integrity of our higher education system.

TES Interview

Today, TES has published its interview with the Education Secretary, conducted after the launch of the EdTech strategy which we covered in our blog earlier this week.

The interview is wide-ranging and includes discussion on the RSE draft guidance which has been prominently covered across national media in recent weeks, along with other topics.

On Sunday, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman came out strongly against the protests. And Hinds uses this interview to follow up with his most forthright comments yet.

I don’t want to see demonstrations at school gates,

Specifically, to the extent there are cases, as there have been [at Parkfield Community School], of teachers feeling intimidated by that, that is absolutely not what we should be seeing in our schools.

I want dialogue. That’s the way to progress these things.

The article can be read in full here.

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