UK: Universities shun A-levels for admissions

At least 18 universities are setting their own admissions tests because they believe they can no longer rely on A-level results alone to gauge a candidate's ability, a report reveals today. Universities UK - the body representing vice-chancellors - estimates that one in seven of its 132 members has introduced such exams, reports The Independent. Its findings are a further blow to the credibility of A-levels, and have angered critics who claim the university entrance tests will help middle-class students whose parents can afford coaching for them.

Many of those setting their own exams are members of the Russell Group of elite universities and institutions. The tests, used mainly for popular courses such as law or medicine, include aptitude exercises, essay writing, critical thinking and subject-specific examinations, in addition to other forms of testing such as interviews and auditions.

Their popularity has been growing as the percentage of A-level students achieving high marks rises year on year. Last year, 25% of scripts were A-grade passes. Both Oxford and Cambridge set tests for specific subject areas, as do Birmingham and Nottingham universities. Imperial College London also plans to set a general test for all candidates.

Full report on The Independent site