Northern Ireland

Universities in N Ireland lowest for unconditional offers

Image caption Ucas figures show a steep rise in the number of universities offering unconditional places to prospective students

Northern Irish universities made only 10 unconditional offers to prospective undergraduates in 2018.

That is far lower than most universities in England or Wales.

An unconditional offer usually guarantees a pupil a university place regardless of their A-Level results.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) published details of unconditional offers made by 140 universities for the first time.

The increasing use of unconditional offers has previously been criticised by England's Office for Students.

Some teaching unions have also said that it can lead to pupils making less effort in their A-Levels if their university place is assured before they sit their exams.

Steep rise

Ucas figures show a steep rise in the number of universities offering places to prospective students irrespective of what grades they actually receive.

Unconditional offers accounted for more than half of the offers made by eight universities in England and Wales.

Image caption Queen's University has made only five unconditional offers to students

A further 18 universities made at least 20 % of their offers with no conditions.

Almost 8% of all offers made by universities in England were unconditional.

But Queen's University Belfast (QUB) and Ulster University (UU) made almost none.

Out of a total of 12,950 offers made to students in 2018 by QUB, only five were unconditional.

UU similarly made only five unconditional offers out of 12,860 in total.

'High demand'

Students can receive a number of offers from an individual university.

Therefore almost every offer of a place made by a university in Northern Ireland was dependent on the applicant's final exam results.

QUB said it did not make any unconditional offers to students who had not completed their qualifications and that all students had to satisfy the entry requirements of the course they were applying to.

This is mainly down to relatively high demand for university places in Northern Ireland and a cap on the maximum number of students QUB and UU can admit every year.

By contrast, the majority of universities in England and Wales have no cap on the number of students they can recruit.

More on this story