Post-Qualification Admissions Reform Consultation

Closed 13 May 2021

Opened 21 Jan 2021

Feedback updated 7 Mar 2022

We asked

We asked for your views on a system of Post Qualification Admissions (PQA) which could bring about reform to the higher education (HE) admissions system. We suggested two models of PQA:  

  • Model 1: Students apply and receive offers to HE once they know their Level 3 results. 
  • Model 2: Students apply to HE before they know their Level 3 results (as they do now) but only receive and accept offers after results day. 

We also asked for your comments and suggestions about alternative reform measures.

You said

Two-thirds of respondents (324/489, 66%) were in favour of change to a PQA system in principle, but many respondents were concerned by practical implications of how it could operate, and 60% respondents felt that the models of PQA would be either worse than, or no better than, current arrangements. There were a variety of different models favoured but no consensus as to what change should look like.

Key issues raised included:

  • The effect of change on student well-being. Respondents were clear that any new system should not create additional barriers for groups already underrepresented in HE. High-quality information, advice and guidance were considered  essential in preventing further disadvantage.
  • Operational challenges that may result from PQA, for example, changes to Level 3 results days, timetabling of auditions, tests and interviews and involving the Devolved Administrations and international students.
  • The need for greater transparency about how admissions decisions are made by HE providers.
  • The need for careful planning with a range of stakeholders before introducing a new system.

We did

We carefully considered the responses we received to the consultation and will not be implementing PQA.

The more urgent sector priorities on continuing to deal with Covid recovery, on the skills agenda and the introduction of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement have led the Department to conclude that now is not the right time to press ahead with what would be a major, time-consuming reform.

We will continue to work with UCAS and sector bodies to tackle problems with admissions at their root, including the growth in unconditional offers and reforming the personal statement to underpin fairness for students of all backgrounds.  

The full consultation response can be found here: Post-qualification admissions in higher education: proposed changes - GOV.UK ( which was published alongside our policy statement and  consultation on HE Reform. This sets out our plan for Post-16 education across England and how we are planning to bring higher and further education into alignment and create a fairer and more sustainable system for students, institutions and the taxpayer. 


We're seeking views on proposed changes to higher education admissions to a system of Post-Qualification Admissions (PQA).

Why your views matter

This consultation follows the commitment from Government to level up the university admissions system and seeks views on whether to change the current system of higher education admissions and move to a system of post-qualification admissions (PQA).

This document sets out the rationale for reform, whilst seeking views on the current admissions process and sets out potential models for a PQA system, seeking views on delivery.

We will analyse the responses from this consultation carefully – including evidence on the impact on schools, colleges, providers and other organisations – before taking final decisions on whether and how to introduce a PQA system.


  • Teachers
  • Headteachers
  • School support staff
  • Adult education providers
  • Further education colleges
  • Sixth form colleges
  • Independent specialist colleges
  • Designated institutions and 16-19 academies
  • 16-18 year old students resident at these institutions
  • Virtual school heads
  • SENCOs
  • Pupils
  • Young people
  • Parents
  • Universities


  • Education
  • Participation of young people in education, employment and training
  • HE