Friday, 13 Dec 2019

BBC’s Humprhys dismantles ‘chaotic’ Labour policy as he grills Corbyn ally Angela Rayner

BBC presenter John Humphrys quizzed the Labour frontbencher over her proposal to scrap the current university admission system and have institutions offer places after A-Level results. Students currently apply for a spot earlier in the year and are offered a place on a conditional or unconditional offer depending on their exam results in the summer. But speaking to Angela Rayner, Mr Humphrys questioned the deliverability of her plans: “I mentioned chaos and I was thinking of what Jeff Barton said – he’s the General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leavers – and he says it would be extremely difficult to manage the entire application process in the few weeks between the A-Level results and then the start of the university term in September or perhaps October.

We need to rethink the entire calendar, he said.”

The BBC Today programme host continued: “Students who do much better or worse than predicted, there’s the clearing system, isn’t it?

“You get your results and then you might want to change your mind for one reason or another – you may have done so much better than expected and then you can go through clearing.

“You might very well end up with the university you want.”

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But Ms Rayner defended her proposition, claiming the clearing system does not guarantee students have the chance to change their selection after A-Level results. 

The Labour frontbencher said: “I think what you said John is absolutely right – you might end up.

“And it’s very difficult and students in those circumstances you might feel pressurised. If you’ve got predicted grades, you may have already accepted a conditional or unconditional offer and find it very difficult to get into a different university.”

She continued: “We may have to look at the calendar and we are willing to do that because what we believe is more important is that students get the best university for them based upon their actual grades.

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The system at the moment is completely unfair and I announced Labour’s Social Justice Commission recently and I’m really committed to making sure our education system builds upon people’s success rather than where they maybe went to university or school or where people believe they are in their social status.”

Ms Rayner added: “We’ve got to change the system because it currently affects disadvantaged students and that’s completely unfair.”

Labour put forward their proposal as students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland await to receive their A-Level results on Thursday.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills found in 2011 that 51.7 percent of all grade predictions were accurate, with over 40 percent of the forecasted results being over-predicted an a little over 6 percent under-predicted. 

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Claire Merchant, chief admission executive for university admission service UCAS, admitted the prospect of a post-qualification admission (PQA) system has a “natural appeal.”

However Ms Merchant said research conducted in 2012 concluded the “wholesale” introduction of the new system would actually put at a disadvantage those students the plan aimed to help.

She said: “Clearing provides a PQA service for those students who want to wait until they have their results before applying.

“And in 2018, more than 17,500 students were accepted directly through this route.”

The chief executive suggested designing a new admission system would require the collaboration of the institutions with students, teachers and Students Loans Companies as well as work on how to avoid disruption to the admission timescale. 

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