Entry requirements for different universities are becoming increasingly similar. We tend to think that Russell Groups Universities and older institutions are harder to get into, especially universities established before 1992, the year polytechnics were allowed to become universities. However, new data shows that gap between entry requirements for universities is narrowing.
Times Higher Education analysed new data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency and found that Russell Group universities and other generally respected universities are lowering their entry requirements and increasing intake whilst former polytechnics’ entry tariffs are rising. For instance, University of Liverpool average entry grades were only five points higher than Liverpool John Moores University, whose average grade intake was AAB.
There are other possible explanations for the closing gap between entry requirements. Ten years ago, new legislation meant that the cap on the number of unconditional offers universities could offer was removed. The increase in unconditional offers has brought down the average grade offer for some universities. It is also possible that the mixing of BTECs and A levels could affect the average tariff requirements as well as students who may not have been recorded, such as mature students or those who go through clearing.
It’s unclear whether higher entry requirements reflect a higher level of teaching, and some stereotypes have been maintained with University of Cambridge having the highest average entry grades. However, given that entry tariffs are getting more similar, it’s worth thinking about whether former polytechnics deserve their negative reputation and whether there is any correlation between reputation and how hard a university is to get into.