Unis will be fined £500,000 for making offers unconditional if you firm them

The offers put pressure on students to make bad decisions, say uni regulators

Unis will be fined up to £500,000 for making offers that are unconditional only if you make them your firm choice.

The offers, known as “conditional unconditionals” have been banned until September by the Office for Students, in an attempt to stop universities pressuring students during the pandemic.

Normal unconditional offers will not be affected, and students have been reassured that no existing offers will be retracted.

As many as 30,000 “conditional unconditional” offers were made to students at the start of the pandemic, as universities fretted about attracting enough students for the 2020/21 academic year.

The practice has been decried by the OfS as having “serious negative consequences for students or for the stability or integrity of England’s higher education sector.” Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, has said there is “no justification” for “conditional unconditionals”.

However, the current system of students getting uni places without knowing their actual grades is outdated, says the leader of the UCU.

“It is time we joined the rest of the world and moved to post-qualification admissions system, where students receive offers after their results. It would eradicate the problems associated with unconditional offers, end the gamble of predicted grades and be much fairer for students,” Jo Grady told The Guardian.

Nicola Dandridge, the Chief Executive of the OfS, said: “We have previously highlighted that unconditional offers which are conditional on students accepting a university or college as their first choice put pressure on students and distort their decision making. Widespread use of unconditional offers also risks destabilising the system. Our concerns are even more acute in these exceptional times with the shape of the next few months and years still very unpredictable, and information, advice and guidance less readily available than it may normally be.

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