Post-Qualification Admissions Reform Consultation

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Closes 13 May 2021



This consultation seeks views on whether to change the current system of higher education admissions and move to a system of post-qualification admissions (PQA). PQA could see students receive and accept university offers after they have received their A level (or Level 3 equivalent) grades, as opposed to the current system in which students apply up to a year before starting and are made offers on the basis of predicted grades.  

This consultation follows the commitment from Government to level up the university admissions system and supports the wide-ranging further and higher education reforms as part of a unified strategy for post-16 education reform.  Our Government manifesto committed to “improve the application and offer system” and “tackle the problem of low quality courses” in a way that is "underpinned by a commitment to fairness, quality of learning and teaching, and access". This consultation has the backing of the three devolved governments. While the current admissions system has evolved and reformed over the last 20 years, to respond to changes in the student demographic and wider changes to the HE system, there are still aspects of the current HE admissions system that fall short of this commitment and doesn’t serve certain groups of students well. We believe that a more fundamental reform, such as PQA, has the potential to contribute towards improved student outcomes in the longer-term, moving towards a higher education system that provides a twenty-first century offer for all students.

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

Who this is for

This consultation is for anybody throughout the UK with an interest in higher education, particularly the admissions process. This includes: 

  • Schools and further education institutions and their staff, career advisors, teachers and leaders
  • Students who have been through the higher education application system or plan to do so in the future and their parents/guardians 
  • Higher education providers 
  • Higher education stakeholders, representative bodies and charities 
  • Representative bodies for students and student groups
  • Other government bodies and departments
  • Awarding organisations