Unconditional offers

The Office for Students' chief executive Nicola Dandridge has written to The Times, responding to an analysis of the use of unconditional offers by Nottingham Trent University.

The letter is reproduced below.

University offers

Sir, you report ('University fights corner for unconditional offers', Tuesday 14 January 2020) that Nottingham Trent University has published analysis of its 'conditional unconditional offers', whereby students are guaranteed places regardless of their A-levels if they make the university their first choice, and has concluded that they have no significant impact on students’ results. While the university is to be commended for being transparent, national data from UCAS shows that students with unconditional offers are more likely to drop out than their peers who share the same backgrounds and predicted grades.

The UCAS data shows that applicants with an unconditional offer are 11.5 percentage points more likely to miss their predicted grades. This means that these students may enter university underprepared for the increased rigour of higher study.

However, this is about more than data. Conditional unconditional offers can put inappropriate pressure on students to bank a 'safe' option as opposed to a more suitable course with more demanding entry requirements. We also know that A-level grades are taken seriously by employers, so dropping grades may have an adverse impact on students’ future careers.

Nicola Dandridge

CEO, Office for Students

Published 15 January 2020

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