Should universities still give unconditional offers?

St Mary’s University has stopped giving unconditional offers to increase academic standards, but is this really the best way to do it? Reportedly, there were over 65,000 unconditional offers made to students in 2018, which is a considerable increase compared to the 5,000 that were offered just five years before. But should this just mean universities should hand out fewer of them rather than just scrapping the idea altogether?

For most students, an unconditional offer is what they ideally hope to receive when sending off their UCAS applications. It is understandable that students want the opportunity to feel a sense of security in a particularly nerve-wracking time in their lives. An unconditional offer isn’t seen as a guarantee that allows students to completely give up on their workload because they know they’re sorted, especially since the majority of students that receive this offer are those who will work hard regardless.

However, St Mary’s claim that in recent years many students who had received an unconditional offer did not achieve the grades that they would have been required to get if they had had a conditional offer. Despite this, to me, it seems an unfair step to remove unconditional offers completely.

Arguably, it might not be a reflection of the student being unable to achieve a high grade but rather that they are one of many who finds exams to be very challenging. As someone who struggles with exams, I can completely understand the frustration of not receiving the rewards of so many hours’ worth of hard work. Furthermore, an unconditional offer should be a sign of who you are as a student. It means so much more than a grade on a piece of paper, and if the university believes you are a student who deserves a place at the university, then I don’t see why you shouldn’t receive one.

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