Major review of university admissions underway

A review of university admissions practices will ensure they are fair, transparent and operating in the best interests of students.

Universities UK is establishing the 'Fair admissions review' to:

  • Collect evidence on how admissions practices work and to identify the main challenges linked to admissions and offer-making practices including unconditional and contextual offers.

  • Review whether the 2004 Schwartz principles on fair admissions in higher education remain valid.

  • Recommend best practice in offer making and propose changes that will ensure that university admissions work in the best interests of applicants and are fit for purpose in a rapidly changing post-18 education environment.

The 'Fair admissions review' advisory group will consist of UCAS, school, college, student, and university representatives. Its recommendations, due in spring 2020, will be informed by best practice from across the UK.

Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:

"This review will establish the evidence, best practice and inform the debate around university admissions. It will determine whether different types of offers operate in the best interests of students and are fair to all. Universities will continue to make their own decisions on offers, but the review aims to build greater levels of transparency, trust and public understanding in admissions practices."

Clare Marchant, UCAS' Chief Executive, said:

"We absolutely welcome the Universities UK review of admissions practices and look forward to working with the project advisory group to deliver meaningful recommendations. Students' best interests must be the paramount consideration for universities and colleges when making offers. It's essential that students are supported to make informed choices and the right decisions about their future."

Beth Linklater, Assistant Principal, Queen Mary's College, Basingstoke, and Chair of UCAS' Secondary Education Advisory Group, said:

"Choosing a university course is one of the biggest decisions many young people will make. This review is an excellent opportunity to see how university admissions can be improved so that all applicants are able to find the university place which is right for them." 


Notes to editors

The chair of the 'Fair admissions review' advisory group is Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor & President, Ulster University.

Other members are:

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor, Durham University;

Debra Gray, Principal, Grimsby Institute;

Professor David Green CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Worcester;

Caroline Hoddinott, Headteacher at Haybridge High School and Sixth Form;

Tracey Lancaster, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Resources), Leeds Beckett University;

Beth Linklater, Assistant Principal, Queen Mary's College, Basingstoke;

Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St Andrews;

Clare Marchant, Chief Executive, UCAS;

Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, University of Bath;

David Ruck, Head of Higher Education and Careers, Bristol Grammar School

Lee Sanders, Registrar and Secretary, University of Birmingham;

Claire Sosienski Smith, Vice-President for Higher Education, National Union of Students

Professor Mary Stuart CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lincoln;

Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Canterbury Christ Church University;

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor, Aberystwyth University;

Jo Wilson, Head of Sixth Form, The Pingle Academy, Derbyshire;

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham Trent University.

The review will be sensitive to the different contexts that higher education providers are operating in across different UK nations, and work to complement successful initiatives already underway in different parts of the UK.

Universities UK is the collective voice of 136 universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its mission is to create the conditions for UK universities to be the best in the world; maximising their positive impact locally, nationally and globally. Universities UK acts on behalf of universities, represented by their heads of institution. Visit:  

Our team

Steven Jefferies

Steven Jefferies

Head of Media
Universities UK

Eloise Phillips

Eloise Phillips

Media Officer
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Senior Media Officer
Universities UK


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