Cautionary advice

October 22, 1999

Two articles have suggested that higher education institutions are failing to provide an early indication of admissions policies in respect of the new 16-19 curriculum ("Schools ask for a clearer points system", THES, October 8; "It's not too early to show hand in admissions game", October 15).

There is a simple explanation for our apparent inactivity: draft specifications for the new qualifications have only just been made available, and final versions are not due to be approved until November 19.

Without scrutinising the specifications, our admissions tutors cannot determine the weight they should give to the new AS level or assess whether the new A levels will still deliver the subject-specific grounding required for successful progression to many first-year undergraduate degrees.

This is not an apologia for a comfortable seat on the admissions fence. Warwick is happy to offer preliminary guidance on admissions policy for 2001 and 2002 to any school or college requesting our views. My point is simply that half-baked policy is worse than no policy because it may be misleading.

It might also be argued that when one of the AS-level specifications advises that "work for this module is likely to have been undertaken within one year of GCSE and the level of expectation should be appropriate to this", some caution may well be justified.

Katherine Lloyd Clark Assistant registrar (undergraduate admissions), University of Warwick

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