HMC broadly welcomes the move by The University of Bristol to accept lower exam grades from disadvantaged local pupils and applicants from schools with poor A-level results.
The Bristol project is an attempt by the sought-after university to drive social mobility. It will make offers two grades lower than the standard offer for applicants who have been at schools in the lowest-achieving 40% for A-level results.
Priority will be given to students who have overcome educational or domestic disadvantage and meet a range of widening participation criteria, such as being the first in their family to attend university, being part of the Free School Meals cohort, living in care or being a young carer.
The project will be launched by MP Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, at St Bede's Catholic College in Bristol and they are running the scheme in partnership with Bristol Learning City.
Chris Ramsey, HMC's universities spokesperson and Head of King's, Chester said:
“Given the major expansion of good university places in recent years, it is positive news that institutions such as Bristol are finding creative ways of tapping into talent more widely and increasing social mobility.”
“Research shows, however, that that prior attainment is key to success, so it’s crucial that offers are not irresponsibly low for disadvantaged students. For example, heavily discounted grades may well not work in maths and some sciences,” said Chris.
It is also important that students with lower entry qualifications can still meet the demands of their university course, so the HMC encourages that these students should have tailored support. Universities will have a responsibility to care for and support these new students as well as their existing ones,” concluded Chris.
The initiative has been developed with schools and colleges in Bristol and 39 Year 13 students are taking part in a pilot scheme, ahead of starting their studies at the university in September 2017.