Universities could offer a second chance for poor pupils

Leading universities are devising a second chance test that will allow pupils from deprived backgrounds to gain admission with lower A-level grades.

Eleven - which include Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, York, Southampton, Leeds and Exeter - would offer places provided prospective students complete an online course in research skills.

They would normally be rejected on the grounds of their predicted grades but will now be considered in light of their background and school's poor academic record.


The scheme will involve 90 schools in the first two years

Completing the course would give pupils a results boost 'at least equivalent' to 40 university entry points - or a two-grade head start, meaning Cs would suffice instead of As.

Critics are concerned pupils who worked hard for top grades could be punished by crude admissions adjustments.

David Vanstone, headmaster of fee-paying North Cestrian Grammar School and former chairman of the Independent Schools Association, said: 'The independent sector is very much in favour of broadening access to higher education but I'm seriously concerned about the implication of a system that involves differentiated offers.

'Entry to university should be an open competition and judged on academic potential.'

The proposals emerged in a policy paper produced by Newcastle University, which is spearheading the Realising Opportunities project.

Whitehall approached top universities in 2008 about a scheme to boost the number of workingclass students at university.

A total of 13 signed up and £1.2million in public funding was allocated over three years to 2012.

Two universities, Warwick and King's College London, also signed up but are said to be 'unlikely to participate' in the online course.

Newcastle's policy document said it would 'allow students to develop and exhibit skills necessary for successful transition into, and through, a research intensive university'.

During the first two years the scheme will involve 90 schools and more than 1,000 sixth-formers before being rolled out.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now