UCAS a bar to access

February 18, 2000

I have just returned from the British Council education exhibitions in Hong Kong and Thailand, where much was made of the new branding of British education. While I applaud this initiative, one of the main problems regarding access to university in the UK is not the brand, it is the procedures of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

Put yourself in the shoes of an international student. To apply for university in Britain, you are required to fill in a complicated form, find the money for the application, send it to UCAS and then wait several weeks for a reply.

Now try applying to a university in Australia. Fill in a simple form, no fee, and then you will probably receive an instant offer.

UCAS represents the biggest barrier to entry to UK universities, and the biggest marketing advantage to our competitors. A new brand is fine, but unless UCAS procedures are reformed we will still struggle in increasingly competitive markets.

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