Conditional vs. Unconditional Offers

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The practice of unconditional offers for students completing secondary school and going into university is widespread and well-accepted in the US system. However, in the UK, conditional offers have always been far more common. With a conditional offer a student is expected to meet the conditions of the offer, usually certain grades and other academic requirements, before they can accept their place. Universities, especially those from lower down the League tables, have defended the practice of giving unconditional offers because it is said to put less pressure on a student.

In this day and age, perhaps trying to avoid pressure by giving unconditional offers is another form of cocooning or protecting a young person to too large an extent. For decades, failure to succeed academically meant you were not able to attend university. In life generally, failure to meet particular standards or requirements comes with a consequence. Perhaps the same should remain true for tertiary studies.

By sending the message that grades are irrelevant to university aspirations, perhaps we are not so much reducing pressure as indicating that striving for something worthwhile does not take a great deal of effort.

It is true students feel under pressure to perform well academically if they are to meet their conditional offer but academic excellence really requires that they do.

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