Credit: Vasily Koloda via Unsplash

UCAS could scrap personal statements

By Aysha Sohail

UCAS is considering moving from the traditional personal statement to a structured set of questions application process.

The UK’s University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) is considering replacing the current personal statement based university application protest with a questions-based structure. The more structured series of questions would still allow students to show creativity but guide their answers with more specific criteria. This would affect applications for most UK higher education institutions.

This move was announced as part of wider changes in the way universities admit students to increase fairness between social groups. Other considerations included allowing students to apply to university after getting their grades, rather than pre-emptively. This is thought to increase pupils’ choices and expand them to horizons they had previously not considered. 

Other considerations included allowing students to apply to university after getting their grades, rather than pre-emptively.”

The current personal statement system is believed to be advantageous to more affluent students with a network of teachers, parents and tutors who can help them perfect their statements. This was expressed by Universities Minister Michelle Donelan at a recent speech for a UCAS event, where she stated that she believed: “Personal statements in their current form favour the most advantaged students.”

The head of UCAS, Clare Marchant expressed wishes to “simplify the process, offer greater guidance and help students from all backgrounds have an equal level of support”.

However, many in higher education still see the benefits of personal statements. In a government consultation, 28% of respondents in the higher education stakeholder group said they were not sure whether personal statements should be removed, with 53% believing they should stay. Further response analysis showed that while those consulted were concerned about disparities, they also highlighted the benefit personal statements give pupils. These included less stress, with pupils being judged holistically, and space to reflect on career goals and motivations, improving decision-making skills.


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