Universities must make clear how they view candidates with a wide range of entry qualifications compared with those with a narrow range of top-grade A levels, according to the responses to a consultation on the tariff scheme by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
"We need to advise students now on whether to do a broader range of subjects or not. Students can do up to five AS levels and three A levels. At the moment, we know that it is better to do fewer A levels and get good grades to get high points," said Judith Norrington, director of curriculum and quality at the Association of Colleges.
"The government is going for a broader curriculum. If they want students to do different things, then students should be rewarded for it. But what happens if, at the end of the day, universities say that they do not want five AS levels but three A levels? Universities need to be more transparent about what they actually want," Mrs Norrington added.
The consultation was designed to identify whether the system for awarding points to different A- level grades was fair. At present, an A grade is worth five E grades. UCAS wanted to know whether schools, colleges and universities would prefer to keep this 5:1 ratio or replace it with a 3:1 or 2:1 ratio.
Sue Singer of Guildford High School, representing the Girls' Schools Association, said: "We should go for a 3:1 ratio. The 5:1 ratio makes much too great a distinction between grades compared with the distinction between the marks needed to achieve those grades, whereas a 2:1 ratio is equally distorted in the opposite direction."
The Association of Colleges also favours a 3:1 ratio. The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals said that it was "content for the Department for Education and Employment to determine the ratio of points for grades A to E".