University bids shake-up proposed
Students could apply for university after receiving their A-level grades in what would be the biggest shake-up of the system for 50 years.
Under proposals by the admissions service Ucas, universities would no longer make offers to students based on their predicted grades.
The changes have been put forward after a review by Ucas found that the current application process is complex, lacks transparency and is inefficient and cumbersome.
The new system, which is likely to be introduced in 2016 at the earliest, would have a massive impact on the application system and lead to changes in both the school and university years.
Teenagers would sit their A-level exams earlier and apply for university over the summer, with courses starting in mid-October.
The proposals were given a cautious welcome by university and school leaders.
In a review and consultation document, Ucas warned that the current system asks students to make choices about universities and courses before they are ready, with many needing to make decisions at least six months before they receive their results.
It says: "The cumulative effect of predicted grades, insurance choices and Clearing have led to a system that is complex, is thought to lack transparency for many applicants and is inefficient and cumbersome for higher education institutions."
The review found that fewer than 10% of students are applying to university with three accurate grade predictions. And an estimated 20%-40% of university applications have predicted grades which fail to meet the minimum entry requirements of the course applied for. Almost half (42%) of applicants hold a so-called "insurance" or back-up place that require them to get the same or better grades than their first choice course.
In a bid to tackle the problems, Ucas today advocated major reform of the system. The proposals call for the A-level exam period to last five weeks, and end 15 days earlier than at present. Results would be made available by early July.