A lack of maturity

August 27, 1999

Despite the AUT action (above), this year has seen few "clearing chaos" tales. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has become adept at coping with tens of thousands of applicants who have days rather than weeks to take some of the most important decisions of their lives. This is progress, even though a post-qualification entry system that would allow informed decisions on a sensible timescale would be better still.

However, there is less comfort in this week's UCAS figures for the government's lifelong learning objectives. More places have been accepted by 18-year-olds, unperturbed by the prospect of hefty debt in three years' time. But among mature students, fees and lack of maintenance grants seem to be the reasons for fewer acceptances. The University for Industry and other initiatives might take up some of the mature applicants deterred by the cost of full-time study. But universities need the most diverse student body they can get and student finance should promote learning chances rather than limiting them.

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