Admissions tutors have hit out at proposals to conceal the other institutions to which a potential student has applied, writes Alison Goddard.
Under pressure from schools, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has proposed that admissions tutors should no longer be able to see an applicant's other choices.
Schools have long believed that universities and colleges discriminate against applicants on the basis of the other universities to which they have applied.
They say students who do not achieve the necessary grades for their first choice would be penalised if admissions tutors were not given full information on the firm and insurance offers they hold.
Laura Kishore, senior assistant registrar for admissions at the University of Reading, said: "There can be positive benefits if universities can see the other choices an applicant has made. For example, if we are the insurance choice, we cannot move until the institution holding the firm choice has made a decision. If we know the institution, we can hurry along the decision."
Hiding the identity of the institution at which an applicant holds a firm conditional offer would also make it harder to manage student numbers, according to Ken Young, admissions officer at the University of Newcastle.
"The lists issued in June give you information on the conditional firm offer. You know what the student's predicted grades are, so you can make an educated guess as to whether they are coming to you. It is crucial that we have the information when we get penalised for under-recruiting or over-recruiting," said Mr Young.
Ms Kishore said it would also be hard to identify early where an applicant had made an inappropriate choice and should be directed to a more suitable course.
The Ucas conference in April will discuss the issue and a decision will be made at the board meeting in June. If the proposal goes ahead, it will affect applicants for entry in September 2003.