Universities to boycott 'xxx soft' A-Levels

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The Independent Online

Leading universities are cracking down on "soft" A-level subject choices to ensure only the most academically talented applicants win degree places, it was reported last night.

The institutions, believed to include the 20 universities in the Russell Group, are to issue warnings that pupils taking two or more of the blacklisted subjects will struggle to be accepted for undergraduate courses.

Cambridge University has identified on its website a hit list of 20 A-level choices that "together provide a less effective preparation for our courses." They include media studies, business studies, dance, film studies, home economics, and music technology. The website adds: "To be a realistic applicant, a student will normally need to be offering two traditional academic subjects."

The move, if it has the intended effect, would undermine ministers' efforts to increase the numbers of state school students at luniversities. The news is also expected to frustrate parents whose children attend schools which have not provided warnings on the unwanted subjects.

Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell Group of 20 leading universities, warned in the Sunday Times that a gulf is emerging between state and private schools, as comprehensives increasingly promoted the undesired subjects.

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