Ucas tariff is on point

April 28, 2016

Tim Gill, the research officer at Cambridge Assessment who says that the Ucas tariff system overvalues both the International Baccalaureate and vocational BTECs, misunderstands the Ucas tariff (“IB and BTEC ‘overvalued’ in Ucas tariff, study finds”, News, 21 April). The tariff is designed as a metric for management information purposes and is used by only a small number of universities to make offers, usually when the admissions decisions are not high stakes. Some universities also use it in their minimum requirements for entry to help students who have a mix of qualification types, such as A levels and BTECs.

That said, it is true that the Ucas tariff does not claim to measure the suitability of one type of qualification against another for progression to different types of courses. Even for A levels, a student with, say, physics A level might be a stronger candidate for a particular course than one with a chemistry A level, despite having the same Ucas tariff points.

The tariff is being reformed for 2017 but it will still use the basic level or challenge of the qualification together with its size to calculate the tariff points. Both these measures are overseen by the UK qualifications regulators.

The fit between a learner’s subject interest and learning style and their future success at degree level is well documented in our Progression Pathways project.

Helen Thorne
Director of external relations, Ucas


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