Letter: Students deserve a better deal 1

February 8, 2002

Your editorial on the archaic nature of university admissions only begins to scratch the surface of the system's imperfections and inefficiencies ("Archaic system for admissions has had its day", THES , January 25).

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is a sham. Ucas publishes deadlines and pays no attention to them. Its showcase website was last updated two years ago and quotes such deadlines as July 2000. All this smoke-and-mirrors comes at a crucial stage for 17 and 18-year-olds beset by uncertainties about their future education.

In the days of electronic communication, there is no need for this rigmarole. Why request estimated grades almost 12 months before admission when actual grades are freely available at the click of a mouse in August, allowing six full weeks to accomplish what each individual subject department can complete in a few hours? Why request candidates to apply for up to six places when they can take up only one? The hours of research wasted by applicants and their earnest advisers must make this a candidate for the most inefficient system in the Western world.

Let's call enough enough and dismantle this, one of the last great bureaucracies sheltering in the state's bosom, and eliminate the ludicrous time-wasting inflicted by a vainglorious empire, subject to no one and blissfully heedless of anyone's interests but its own.

Students and teachers labour under this extra, awesome burden for no reward. What does Ucas care how many unpaid hours go into this monumental waste of time as long as it receives its cheques and sustains its pivotal position of supreme irrelevance?

Dave Wallace
Wisborough Green
West Sussex

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