Russell-university awards places irrespective of A-levels grades !
               Russell-university award

University of Birmingham – a member of the elite Russell Group – will distribute up to a quarter of undergraduate places this year based on teachers’ own predictions of pupils’ performance.
It is making 1,000 “unconditional offers” to students expected to score straight As in exams as part of a large-scale pilot programme.
The university insisted the move was intended to reward students with the most potential and take the pressure off teenagers in their final year.
But the policy underlines the scale of the competition between universities to recruit bright students in a bid to drive up standards and ensure places do not lie empty.
Students taking up an unconditional offer on one of 12 courses at Birmingham will be expected to name the university as their “firm choice” on UCAS application forms.

It comes after a drop in the number of undergraduates starting universities nationally last autumn amid a backlash over the near tripling of tuition fees and radical changes to Government policies regulating student numbers.

One vice-chancellor warned that Russell Group universities had started the academic year with around 11,500 vacancies.
The competition for students has now led some universities to offer scholarships worth up to £10,000-a-year for bright students starting degrees in 2013.
Prof David Eastwood, Birmingham's vice-chancellor and Russell Group chairman, insisted the university’s applications were up this year, adding: “I think the issue here is less about filling our quotas and more about attracting the best possible students to a highly-selective university.”
In the past, universities such as Oxford and Cambridge made a number of unconditional offers, dependent on students scoring highly in their own entrance exams, although the system has since been phased out.
This is believed to be the first time the policy has been adopted en masse by a university.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Prof Eastwood insisted the move was intended to make pupils perform even better in end-of-course A-level exams.
“It’s a time when there are lots of pressures on young people and we are trying to take some of those pressures off,” he said. “We believe that the effect of this is that they will do better in the summer. They have already got very strong performance in the bag… and we think there is no danger of them coasting.
“After all, their A-levels will be with them for the rest of their lives – their future employers will be very interested in them – and these are intensely serious young people.”
Students normally apply to university using teachers’ predictions, which are based on prior performance in GCSEs and AS-level exams.
                 Russell-university award
Universities usually make offers of places that are conditional on teenagers scoring certain grades in final exams sat in May and June.
But Birmingham said it was making 1,000 unconditional offers to students who are predicted to score at least three As in their exams – irrespective of final performance. In total, 4,300 students are accepted each year.
Twelve courses will be involved: classics, maths, modern languages, philosophy, sociology, economics, materials engineering, political science, accounting and finance, business management, international relations and European politics, society and economics.
Pupils taking up maths places must be predicted to score three elite A* grades.
Prof Eastwood said: "These are very good students with a range of [course] choices. Some other universities will be trying to attract them with discounted offers on accommodation and with scholarships."

Graeme Paton, Education Editor

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