Distinction and Diversity in Higher Education

Joint statement with University of Cambridge and AoC on A Level reform

University of Cambridge, GuildHE and Association of Colleges urge OFQUAL to retain Y12 assessment for students in England in all subjects taken.

The University of Cambridge, the Association of Colleges (AoC) and GuildHE are urging OFQUAL to give young people the best chance of getting in to the right university for them by retaining public examinations at the end of Year 12 for all students in all subjects.

Responding to the OFQUAL consultation on A Level reform, they have reaffirmed the value of AS, linked to the full A- Level, to students, schools and colleges, and higher
education institutions.

“At present, AS acts as a vital progress-check that helps students make appropriate choices for HE in terms of both subject and institution, and helps universities make objective judgements about potential. Such judgements are at the heart of fair admissions,”
said a spokesman. “If de-coupling of AS and A-level is to go ahead as proposed, we believe all students should be able to sit four fully-funded AS-Levels at the end of Year 12.

“If the government does not wish these exams to feed into final A-Level results, so be it, so long as there is funding sufficient to ensure that all students can sit exams in this way.”

“We are advised by schools and colleges that so-called co-teachability of AS Level and Year 1 of A Level, in which students intending to take AS and those intending to
skip the examination will be taught together, is likely to involve practical
difficulties in the run-up to AS examinations unless all students routinely sit AS-Levels in all their subjects.

“Despite these concerns, if decoupling is to go ahead, we would rather have universal co-teachability than no or partial co-teachability. There would then at least be a chance that Year 12 exams might survive in England.”

In its consultation response, the University of Cambridge also points out that the proposals risk significantly disadvantaging students at English schools by removing
their ability to present evidence of recent academic achievement when applying to
universities. The Welsh and Northern Irish Governments have committed to retaining
the AS at the end of Y12, and students in Scotland sit Highers before making their university applications.