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."

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Sport
Moeen Ali wearing the 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands on his left arm
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Extras
indybest
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
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

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Business Analyst - London - Banking - £400-£450

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Banking - London...

Project Manager,Conduct Risk,London,£5-600pd

£500 - £600 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Senior Fund Administrator - Edinburgh - £22 p/hr

£20 - £22 per hour + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Fund Administrator, Top Four ...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on