Ucas in admissions alert

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The Independent Online

Teenagers taking on apprenticeships or study for vocational qualifications could find their route to university blocked by a radical overhaul of admissions, ministers are warned.

Ucas, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is about to give its verdict on a document calling for an end to the points-based tariff system. Its demise was favoured by almost two-thirds of the universities, schools, exam boards and funding bodies who replied to the consultation document. At present, many universities use the points-score system to determine admissions, but any new arrangements would see all universities given candidates' specific qualifications and grades.

Gordon Marsden, Labour's spokesman on further education and skills, said the "unintended consequences" could make it more difficult for those on apprenticeships and taking widely acclaimed vocational courses to get into higher education.

Prior to the Ucas document, Universities Minister David Willetts said the existing system sent a "very bad message to young people".