OFFICIAL UCAS COURSES GUIDE 23; Qualified success

GNVQ gets a mixed reception from campuses. Karen Gold explains how to make it count

"DON'T quote me, but we don't take people with GNVQ," the head of admissions at a large, long-established civic university told Christine Megson, vice-principal of Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology.

He was not alone. Many of the first cohort of students on the advanced General National Vocational Qualification courses (the equivalent of A- levels) did get higher-education places last year. Indeed, their success rate was marginally better than that of A-level applicants. But some universities were definitely keener than others.

The trouble is, nobody knows exactly which ones. Older universities probably took fewer GNVQ students than new ones. Universities close to colleges with lots of GNVQ students were more likely to have had meetings with GNVQ tutors and know more about the courses. But if you are one of this year's 9,000 Ucas applicants with GNVQ, compared with 900 last year, how can you know where to apply?

The simple answer is, you cannot. You can check which clearing vacancies, if any, specify a grade at GNVQ, rather than simply asking for A-level points. Colleges and universities that have thought to do that are likely to be more comfortable and familiar with GNVQ. But otherwise you can only minimise the chance of instant rejection in four ways.

1 When you get through on the phone to those running your chosen course, ask if they have already taken anyone on that course with GNVQ. If so, you can move on to your own case at once.

2 If they have not taken anyone with GNVQ before, ask if you can discuss your qualifications with an admissions tutor in your subject. Make sure you can talk about what your course has covered and what skills you have acquired. (Many admissions tutors complain they do not know what GNVQ students know, because syllubuses vary so much.)

But keep it simple: "People seem to think admissions tutors have an enormous amount of time to spend browsing through portfolios," says a head of admissions at a university that has taken only a handful of applicants with GNVQ. "This just isn't consistent with reality."

3 Enlist the support of your school or college. Many university admissions tutors, used to hair-splitting differences between grades C and D at A- level, find the broad groupings of distinction, merit and pass in GNVQ frustrating.

Some consequently demand a distinction or nothing. They are reluctant to drop down to merit because they may find themselves with 40 extra students, instead of the three they need to fill the course. A conversation about your GNVQ work, in which your school or college tutor explains what your strengths are, preferably with some comparison with A-level grades, may be enough to get you an interview or a place in that lucky three.

4 Be prepared to cut your losses. Some universities are not going to be enthusiastic about GNVQ until there are so many GNVQ students applying that they have no choice. Others have gone on record as saying they positively encourage applicants with advanced GNVQ.

Keele is among those that have promised to interview all applicants with GNVQ, although it may not continue that policy through clearing. West of England University at Bristol has issued a handbook to admissions tutors explaining how GNVQs work, what they cover, and what the marking system means.

Given the widely varying level of support, it probably is not worth trying to persuade a reluctant tutor to take you. Instead move on, particularly as your potential choice of courses may be better than that open to A- level candidates, Ms Megson says. Life will get easier for GNVQ students as they become more commonplace, she says: "This year the awareness of GNVQ has definitely been greater. Last year, when our students didn't get offers, we were having to ring people up and say, `Would you be prepared to see this student?' This year that hasn't happened.

"But, it still has to be said, the awareness is more among the new universities than the traditional ones. There people are still saying they have so many A-level students they don't need to look anywhere else."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own