University admissions: the international picture

Think tank: The Sutton Trust

Author(s): Dr Graeme Atherton

May 12, 2021

This report from UK think tank The Sutton Trust looks at the global picture of HE admissions systems and timetables.

England has a ‘pre-qualification’ system of higher education admissions, where applications and offers are made to young people before exam results are received. While in most cases offers are conditional on achieving a grade target in A Level exams, recent years have seen an exponential growth in ‘unconditional offers’, where the offer of a place is made long before exams are taken, and is not conditional on results. The government has recently announced a review of the HE admissions system in England and has opened a consultation on the future shape of this system. Should the system stay as it is, move to a Post Qualifications Offers (PQO) model, or move to a Post Qualifications Applications (PQA) model? This briefing focuses on the global picture where HE admissions systems and specifically HE admissions timetables are concerned, and provides an overview.