NUMERACY, communication and other key skills, could become university entry requirements under a new admissions system, writes Phil Baty.
The University and Colleges Admissions Service has been developing a "tariff matrix" for all pre-higher education qualifications.
The brief was always to include key skills in the admissions process, but it has now emerged that they will be worth points, alongside those awarded for A levels and vocational qualifications.
The National Council for Vocational Qualifications has also been working with the Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority to ensure that key skills, already a mandatory part of an Advanced General National Vocational Qualifications course, are "embedded across the qualifications system".
The council expects to report to the education secretary in June with a framework, in which A-level students and vocational students will sit "modules" in the key skills.
NCVQ research officer Tim Oates said key skills will become an entry requirement "by mild compulsion and encouragement".
Mr Oates said that UCAS's new admissions points system, now in its final consultation stage, would send a clear message to admissions tutors to take key skills seriously.
The new "tariff matrix" will be divided into three sections - the main programme, incorporating points for A levels, GNVQs and NVQs; a key skills field, awarding additional points; and a section for other achievements, such as work experience and charity work, which will not be part of the points tariff.
Jess Enderby, UCAS executive assistant, said: "The whole concept of the new tariff is based on the premise that we will provide as much relevant information as we can to the universities. Whether they use it or not is up to them."