A-level reforms will reduce access, say vice-chancellors
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Sunday 11 August 2013
Britain's top universities have joined critics attacking Michael Gove's A-level reforms. In a survey, 22 leading universities said the Education Secretary's decision to scrap AS-levels as a qualification to count towards a final A-level grade is a serious misjudgement that will damage state-school pupils' efforts to be admitted to higher education.
The Labour Party survey of vice-chancellors, pro-vice-chancellors and admissions directors showed that almost 67 per cent opposed Mr Gove's reforms, with only 18 per cent backing the changes that are due to be introduced in 2015. The new figures challenge the Department for Education's claim that the reforms will raise standards and that leading universities are backing Mr Gove.
The survey will also do little to improve Mr Gove's reputation as an elitist, with almost half of those questioned saying they believed the new regime would have a detrimental impact on fair access to university. Only 18 per cent believed the changes would have no impact.
Stephen Twigg, Labour's education spokesman, said the changes would threaten social mobility by reducing state-school pupils' chances of getting to university. He said: "David Cameron and Michael Gove are pulling up the ladder of opportunity behind them. They should listen to what our best universities are saying and change their plans."
Professor Nick Foskett, the vice-chancellor of Keele University, said the qualifications, taken in Year 12, had been important in widening access. He said: "AS-levels ensure increased breadth post-16 and help students defer choices until they have a better grasp of subjects beyond GCSE."
In the survey, to which 22 of the top 50 universities responded, a majority also agreed that AS-levels were a better indicator of future success than GCSE results, the prediction of grades or the use of admissions tests.
With elite Russell Group universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics all taking part, the results cannot be dismissed by the DfE as unrepresentative.
A spokesman for Cambridge University – currently rated second in the world in the authoritative US News and World global rankings – said: "The proposed reforms are in our view detrimental to widening participation and fair admissions. The reforms will hamper transitions, deprive students of choice and flexibility and force them to commit to subjects which they may find entirely unsuitable as they mature academically and make choices about their future."
Earlier this month the rapid changes to the A-level regime were also criticised by the heads of Britain's independent schools.
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Scottish universities have the cheapest cost of living in the UK
Porn star tells university to stop skinning rodents' penises for sex experiments
'Lad culture' consultation finds women afraid to visit their university library for fear of appearing on Facebook 'spotted' pages
Woman to be disciplined by Exeter University after being named 'Britain’s horniest student' by dating website
Oxford University stunned as 'joke candidate' is elected student union president
- 1 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 4 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
- 5 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
- < Previous
- Next >
£Negotiable: Citifocus: High calibre individual with institutional client serv...
£25000 - £40000 per annum: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: This pr...
£22000 - £38000 per annum: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: This se...
£22000 - £37000 per annum: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: This se...