According to a new report bright students from poorer backgrounds are more likely than their wealthier peers to be given predicted A-level grades lower than they actually achieve, putting them at a disadvantage in their university applications.
Under the current university admissions system students make their applications based on A-level grades predicted by their teachers. If their predicted grades are low, they may end up applying for degree courses with lower entry requirements than those which they are capable of getting.
The report says teachers tend to over-predict A-level grades partly in response to growing pressure from parents who push for grades at the top end of expectations. Disadvantaged students are also over-predicted.
Every year, however, as many as a thousand high-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds are given under-predicted grades – potentially not only affecting the university and course they choose but also their future employment prospects.
According to the Guardian the report which was carried out by the Sutton Trust education charity says these students are at a further disadvantage because they may lack the information and guidance required in the university application process to make the best decisions for their future.
Personal statements, which form an important part of the university application, are a further barrier as students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to be supported as they write them, resulting in more grammatical and spelling errors.
In order to tackle the unfair disadvantage poorer students face, the report calls for an overhaul of the university admissions system, including an end to making offers based on predicted A-level grades and a review of personal statements.
Recent figures published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) found that the most advantaged applicants are still six times more likely to attend “high tariff” or selective universities compared with the most disadvantaged.