A friend’s daughter, who graduated with a first and is clearly a high-flyer, was recently rejected by a blue-chip company after passing all six stages of its taxing graduate-recruitment process. An offer was made but then withdrawn when the firm discovered that she did not have the Ucas points it required (to get to first base she had slightly exaggerated her A-level scores). Fair enough: you can’t employ someone who is prepared to lie on the application form.
However, what strikes me most about this cautionary tale is that the company’s policy on Ucas points is mistaken if it wishes to recruit the best of today’s graduates to produce the wealth of tomorrow.
It is at university that young people learn the techniques of independent learning, start to explore the options open to them in the workplace and develop the skills and attributes valued by employers. A-level students, however bright, are still dependent on their teachers and carefully shepherded through the curriculum. For most students it is only at university that they acquire the habits of self-motivation that will equip them for graduate employment.
So, when blue-chip companies ask graduates for a minimum of 340 Ucas points (equivalent to AAB), they are sending out the message that it doesn’t matter how much students learn at university and how well they do in their finals, they will never offer them a graduate job if they don’t have the right A levels.
Over the years I have seen many undergraduates transform themselves from naive freshers into professional workers, making the transition from insecure teenager to responsible and conscientious adult. Their degree classifications offer far better indications of their ability than the results achieved in the school classroom.
Ucas points are valid indicators of academic ability for university entry, but are an unnecessary and damaging hurdle when used by employers recruiting at the graduate level.
Joint acting director
Placement and Careers Centre