Education Secretary condemns 24 uni­versities for using ‘unethical’ practice to lure students to accept places

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THE Education Secretary has today named and shamed 24 universities using “unethical” practices to lure students into accepting places.

Damian Hinds tore into unis which hand out unconditional offers but only if the student puts them down as their first choice.

2019 � Elliott Franks

Education Secretary Damian Hinds branded the unconditional offers as ‘pressure-selling tactics’[/caption]

He slammed vice chancellors for adopting “pressure-selling tactics” which are harming grades just to fill places.

And he urged the universities watchdog, the Office for Students, to launch an urgent review.

He has written to 24 unis, including Oxford Brookes, the University of Birmingham and

Nottingham Trent, to call on them to end the practice.

Mr Hinds said: “It is simply unacceptable for universities to adopt pressure-selling tactics, which are harming students’ grades in order to fill places.

“It is not what I expect to see from our world-class higher education institutions.

“‘Conditional unconditional’ offers are damaging the reputation of the institutions involved and our world-leading sector as a whole.”

The number of unconditional offers – which do not require minimum grades – has skyrocketed in recent years.

In 2018, 34.4 per cent of 18-year-olds from England, Northern Ireland and Wales received a form of unconditional offer – up from just 1.1 per cent in 2013.


Unis are fiercely competing to snap up students, who pay £9,250 a year in fees and many thousands more for accommodation and food.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said: “Our research on unconditional offers highlighted that indiscriminate use of the practice could amount to pressure selling and put universities in breach of consumer law.

“It is not in students’ interests to push them into decisions that may not be right for them, and admissions practices are clearly not working if they are having a negative impact on students’ choices or outcomes.”

List of the 24 universities which Damian Hinds has written to

•University of Roehampton

•Loughborough College

•Kingston University

•Sheffield Hallam University

•University of Brighton

•Birmingham City University

•Nottingham Trent University

•Bournemouth University

•Staffordshire University

•University of Lincoln

•University of Hertfordshire

•Royal Holloway, University of London

•Oxford Brookes University

•Lancaster University

•University of Birmingham

•Middlesex University

•University of Derby

•University of West London

•City, University of London

•Keele University

•University of Kent

•Aston University, Birmingham

Aston and Roehampton Universities both said they no longer make those offers.

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