Leading universities have cold-shouldered new qualifications designed to broaden the school curriculum.
Most top research institutions are refusing to change their entry criteria, based on three good A levels, to accommodate the new GCE Advanced Subsidiary (AS) qualifications, which were introduced this year.
Cambridge, Oxford, the London School of Economics, University College London, Durham, Warwick, Nottingham and Birmingham universities have told The THES they will continue to base the majority of their offers on grades achieved by candidates sitting three full A levels.
However, most of the rest of the university sector, particularly post-1992 institutions, is prepared to consider offering places to candidates with two A levels plus two one-year AS levels, where an AS level is worth half of an A level.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has been consulting on the tariff, proposed for implementation in 2002, which allows integration of A and AS levels, Scottish Highers and vocational qualifications into a single points scale.
An A grade at A level is worth 120 points while grade A at AS level is worth 60. State and private schools are advising pupils to sit four AS levels in Year 12, and carry three on to A level in Year 13 because they are worried that some universities may not accept two A levels plus AS levels.