Northern Ireland news

Northern Ireland universities make fewer unconditional offers than England and Wales

Unconditional offers can be made where providers are satisfied that an individual has demonstrated sufficient attainment and potential to succeed

UNIVERSITIES in the north are making a significantly lower number of unconditional offers than England and Wales, research has found.

Admissions service Ucas has analysed offer-making patterns for the first time.

Its analysis considered 18-year-olds in Britain and Northern Ireland who apply to university with qualification results pending.

It found 87,540 applicants in Northern Ireland, Wales and England received an unconditional offer in 2018.

Offers can either be conditional or unconditional.

Conditional offers specify grades needed to achieve in A-levels, BTECs, or other relevant qualification, to be accepted.

Unconditional offers have no further academic requirements the student needs to meet. This means those accepted before they complete A-levels do not have to sit the exams.

These have always been a part of the admissions process and are used in a variety of circumstances, including to mature students who have already achieved their qualifications.

They may also be made to those applying for creative arts courses, after submitting a portfolio, or following a successful interview or audition.

Analysis published by Ucas today reveals a growth in unconditional offer-making since 2013.

The proportion made by institutions in England has increased each year, while in Wales it went up every year until 2017 before dropping slightly.

In England, 7.6 per cent of offers were unconditional in 2018, while in Wales it was 4.9 per cent, up from 0.3 and 1.1 in 2013.

"For providers in Northern Ireland, unconditional offer-making has remained relatively stable, at between 0 and 0.1 per cent," Ucas found.

It said this was a reflection of caps in student numbers in place at the north's universities.

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