Earlier this month, St. Mary’s University in Twickenham announced that it will no longer hand out unconditional offers.
According to the university, handing out such offers was not economically sustainable as students were getting into their courses without having achieved the grade requirements.
Tes reported that some A Level students even started to skip school after receiving unconditional offers.
UCAS revealed in their end of cycle report that in 2017, over fifteen per cent of 18-year-old applicants in the UK received an unconditional offer.
So do unconditional offers make students lazy and complacent?
Cardiff fresher Sophie achieved her grades despite her unconditional offer.
Speaking to TNS, she said that unconditional offers are "great for students who are willing to continue working, but if not then it’s just a waste!"
Chrystal, a third-year student at Birmingham university did not achieve the grade requirement of the course.
"I got my unconditional and thought 'well now I don’t have to try.' I needed AAB and in the end, I got ABB."
An anonymous respondent said that they worked ‘less hard’ in their A Levels because of their unconditional offer, admitting they ended up missing their requirements by 2 grades.
A recent Sheffield Hallam graduate also admitted the offer made them put less effort into their A Levels – admitting ‘I know I would’ve worked harder without the unconditional offer. I just thought what’s the point of getting stressed out when at the end of the day I’m going to uni whatever the results’.
However, this sentiment was not echoed in all of our respondents.
Jess, a third year at Sheffield Hallam, said ‘I definitely would say having mine made me less determined because I knew I had a place … but in some cases, I feel like it made me do better because I was so comfortable sitting the exams’.
Katie H, a third year at Birmingham, said ‘I felt much less pressured, but I didn’t work any less hard’.
Katie B, another third year at Birmingham who still achieved the AAB required for her course, said ‘I worked as hard as if I had a conditional offer. In the back of my mind, I was keen to at least achieve the conditional grades that my course required.'
She agreed that the unconditional offer attracted her towards Birmingham 'when choosing between two universities that were of a similar level of academic standard, having the novelty of an unconditional definitely had to capacity to sway my overall decision."
Genevieve, a second year at Birmingham, admits that she applied to Birmingham uni because she "knew that gave out a lot of unconditional," admitting Birmingham was actually her 5th choice, but the unconditional attracted her to the uni.
Despite this, Genevieve claims the unconditional made no difference to her work ethic, but it did make her feel "a little more relaxed."
Some students claimed their unconditional offers actually spurred them to overachieve their required grades.
Emily, a third year at Birmingham, said ‘it spurred me on because I thought they were showing they had faith in me so I thought I’d prove they made the right choice’. Only requiring AAB for her course, she received A*A*A.
Is it time that universities scrap unconditional offers?