UCAS predicts variations in AS level provision after decoupling


There is set to be huge variations in AS level provision across the country when their link to A levels is severed in September.

Only half of schools plan to continue offering AS levels across all subjects from September, a survey by university admissions body UCAS has found.

Two-thirds of the 469 schools questioned said they would have AS levels in some form. However, 18 per cent remain undecided.

As part of government reforms, new A level qualifications are being introduced which will see a return to terminal examination at the end of the two-year courses. 

Teaching for the first tranche of reformed A levels begins in September 2015, with others to follow in 2016 and 2017.

As part of the reforms, the link between AS and A levels is being cut from September.

It means that from September 2018, young people in England will be making university applications with a full set of reformed A levels (A levels from Northern Ireland and Wales will remain in the AS/A2 format).

The move has been criticised by Cambridge University, which has said that AS levels offer a “strong measure” of how well students are likely to perform at A level.

However, the Department for Education (DfE) has said that AS levels are an “unnecessary burden” on teachers and students and that students will still be able to sit AS levels if they want to.

Around two-thirds of the UCAS respondents said they planned to wait until 2017, when the A level reforms have been completely introduced, before reviewing their qualification programmes.

Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS chief executive, said: “The findings and comments in this survey clearly show a high level of uncertainty among schools and colleges, and a wide range of responses to the A level reform. 

“With no one single curriculum model dominating, it is likely that more students will be applying to higher education holding a greater diversity of qualifications.

“I am confident that universities and colleges will be flexible in accommodating this diversity to ensure that students are not disadvantaged as a result of qualification choices made by their school or college.”

Photo: iStock


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