University to offer science courses for students who bypass A-levels

Pupils will soon be able to study science at one of Britain's most prestigious universities without having to take A-levels.

Newcastle University, a member of the Russell Group – which represents the top 20 higher education research institutions – will allow students to bypass A-levels in an attempt to increase the take-up of shortage subjects.

The move could have far-reaching implications for the examination system in the UK, with other universities poised to follow suit.

Under the Newcastle plan, instead of studying for the traditional three A-levels in the sixth-form, students will start studying degree-level courses with the Open University (OU). They will be guaranteed a university place provided they can complete the modules. Sixty places at Newcastle are being set aside at the university for students who opt for this approach.

The agreement, in partnership with the OU and Monkseaton High School, one of the leading comprehensive schools in the North-east, was reached because of worries over the number of talented pupils dropping subjects such as science and maths in the sixth-form, some as a result of worries that the subjects may be too difficult.

Backers of the scheme point out that pupils who take the new route will find the transition to the university style of learning easier – as they will already have coped with degree modules. Newcastle may also offer places in other subject areas with a shortage of students, such as maths, engineering and technology.

Heather Finlayson, dean of undergraduate studies at Newcastle, said: "This new route is not an easy option – it's simply a different way of working. Our overall aim is to try to increase the number of high quality science students who would benefit from a university education and we believe this is one way to do that."

Margaret Chaytor, national co-ordinator for the Open University's Young Applicants in Schools Scheme, which will devise the modules, said pressure of exams was one reason students were under-performing at A-level in shortage subjects.

The scheme will put another question mark over the future of A-levels as the main route to university entry. The Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, has indicated he could envisage the Government's new diplomas – to be launched in September – taking over that role from GCSEs and A-levels.

But Paul Kelley, headteacher at Monkseaton High School, said: "This is not about getting rid of A-levels but about offering students choice. This new route offers them the chance to experience university learning in the sixth-form and will inspire them to become the scientists, engineers, mathematicians and technologists we so desperately need."

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
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 Education

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

DT Teacher, Full time supply role, Maidstone school

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We urgently require an experienc...

Primary supply teachers required in Stowmarket

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam