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UCAS points system to be scrapped
This announcement comes just weeks before students throughout the UK receive their A-level results, as well as confirmation of their university places this autumn.
The current UCAS tariff system has been in place for over a decade, and according to Higher Education Minister David Willetts, it has some major flaws and sends a "very bad message to young people".
Originally brought in when A-levels were the accepted standard of entry to university, the system has been treating all A-level courses as the same. For example, an "A" in physics is the equivalent to an "A" in home economics.
UCAS recommends that universities consider the gradual withdrawal of the current system and replace it with the "greater use of qualifications and grades".
Universities would then be asking applicants for specific qualifications and grades when offering places, giving students a much clearer indication of the most relevant qualifications to study for in the sixth form.
Even though only 16% of those responding to UCAS' consultation were definitely against the proposal, there are still fears that scrapping the current system would narrow students' A-level choices, while leading schools to focus on exams that would win students places at university. In short, they’d be giving academic qualifications the edge over vocational ones.
A UCAS spokesman says: "There is widespread support for clear qualification and grade-based entry requirements and offers for applicants, though no decision has been made yet on the future of the UCAS tariff.
"The UCAS board will make a decision on the tariff in September and we continue to work with institutions to understand how the recommendations we have put forward would impact them in the future."
Whether that decision will arrive before this year's A-level results remains to be seen, but at present it appears that hundreds of thousands of student hoping for a definite place at university might just find themselves in a very stressful limbo instead.
But there's no such worries for those who've recently taken up an apprenticeship and are already working towards their vocational qualifications: they're already preparing for their chosen careers without having to worry about an outdated and outmoded points system giving them the thumbs up or the thumbs down.
For them, vocational qualifications definitely have to edge over academic ones - for all sorts of reasons.