Slowly, slowly, on selection

February 10, 1995

The post A-level university selection system the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals and Universities and Colleges Admissions Service proposes to introduce from 1997 (THES, February 3) needs careful planning and sufficient resources.

Higher education in the 1990s has faced waves of inadequately planned and under-resourced changes. New systems of selection should not be introduced until we are sure the resources and procedures are there to make them work. Without these their introduction would lead to chaos.

Discretion for admissions tutors will have to be balanced against clear and open criteria for the acceptance of students on courses. The system will require a simple means of comparing equivalent qualifications, and adequate computer technology.

Too often the introduction of new technology and procedures lag behind change in higher education. Chaos is normally averted by lecturers who give up their vacations, weekends or scholarly activity to fill the gaps. The scale of the proposals may be too great and chaos can only be averted by careful unhurried planning and consultation.

Ann Cotterrell

Assistant Secretary, Natfhe

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