Time to enter the next century

March 17, 2000

Britain's old universities are lagging behind the rest of the sector in their preparations for Curriculum 2000, college heads have warned.

Annette Zera, principal of Tower Hamlets College, told a seminar on widening participation for further and higher education institutions in north London that older universities needed to "enter into the next century".

"Some of them are clearly doing their best, but it is not always good enough," she said.

"The new curriculum arrangements will produce students with a broader base - all things that the newer universities depend on and will welcome. But we need to try to convince the old universities to look at different students, with names they don't recognise, or from post-codes they don't normally recruit from."

From September, sixth-formers will be able to take up to five advanced subsidiary levels (AS levels) and can choose to carry three subjects or more on to A-level standard after one year.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said that it was too early to tell whether or not there would be a division in university entry requirements.

"There has always been a difference in approach between selector and recruiter universities," Mr Dunford said. "Selector universities have not used UCAS's tariffs or broader criteria in the past. We hope that they will all give credit for a large number of courses."

Roderick Floud, provost of London Guildhall University, denied that universities were split in their response.

"All universities are currently absorbing the implications of Curriculum 2000 and we are all committed to it," he told the seminar. But he admitted there is likely to be an initial difficulty in specifying "what qualifications will be needed for each of our courses".

Schools and colleges are reluctant to finalise timetabling arrangements without a definite idea of university entry requirements.

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