Universities turn to entrance exams because they can ‘no longer rely on grades’

A “tsunami” of top grades has left universities turning to entrance exams because they can “no longer rely on A-Levels” to pin-point top students, it has been reported.

Exams in secondary schools have been cancelled for a second year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause chaos within the education system.

Predicted grades have again been given out by teachers, throwing university plans into doubt for thousands.

Fears the “pass all” culture is here to stay are growing as the government accept the disruption to exams will continue well into next year.

The Telegraph report that exam grade “inflation” could be even higher this year.

Vice-chancellors have told the publication of their growing frustration.

A university source said: “It will be extraordinarily messy. It literally could be a tsunami of As and that puts the Russell Group of universities in a very odd position – how do you disaggregate the best students?”

Prof James Tooley, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, said: “If there is a system of exams that admissions officers can’t really use, perhaps it would be better to take this away from exam boards and bring it back to universities.

“This is certainly an idea we would be interested in exploring.

“It’s a big step, but universities are feeling frustrated that they have no longer got an objective measure.”

A Department for Education spokesman said in a statement: “Exams are the best form of assessment but, in the absence of those this year, there is no one better placed to judge young people’s abilities than their teachers, who see them day in, day out.

“As in previous years, the Government has been working closely with universities ahead of results day to ensure as many students as possible can progress if they get the grades they need.”

It comes after ministers were blasted for their “unforgivable refusal” to learn from 2020’s coronavirus-fuelled education chaos.

Lessons over school closures and examinations from the first lockdown were “not learnt”, leading to a “pause, rewind, repeat” approach, according to the Institute for Government.

Published before this month’s A-level and GCSE results, the think tank’s report says the schools’ shutdown triggered “easily the most disruptive period in children’s education since at least the start of the Second World War”.

It says the “most unforgivable aspect of what happened is not just the failure to make contingency plans in the summer of 2020 but the refusal to do so – when it was already obvious that fresh school closures might well be needed, and that exams might have to be cancelled again”.

The study – ‘Schools and coronavirus: The Government’s handling of education during the pandemic’ – accuses ministers of “dreadful” communications.

It read: “Repeated declarations that schools would open or close, or that exams would be held – despite the evident uncertainties – until reality struck.

“The result was U-turn after U-turn, with pupils, parents and teachers left bewildered and floundering time and again”.