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Announcement of review of UCAS Tariff

Issued on 01 July 2010

UCAS is today announcing a comprehensive review of the Tariff, the points-based system used by admissions officers to determine the suitability of qualifications for progression into higher education.

The review comes at a time when the spotlight is on the higher education sector to meet the needs of both applicants and business, with suitability and availability of qualifications increasingly under scrutiny. This makes a mechanism that specifically recognises and communicates a qualification’s value for progression to higher education essential.

Professor Sir Robert Burgess, Chair of the UCAS Board and Vice Chancellor at the University of Leicester, said: ’The UCAS Tariff has been very valuable to the higher education sector which uses it in many different ways to support the admissions process and understanding of qualifications. A review is appropriate at a time when applicants are using an increasingly diverse range of qualifications to progress in to higher education.’

Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS Chief Executive said: “Getting onto your chosen course in higher education has always been competitive. UCAS wants to make sure that everyone can understand the currency of particular qualifications for entry to particular courses and can make a realistic and successful application.”

The Tariff was designed ten years ago when A level qualifications predominated for entry to higher education – this situation is changing, with around 50% of UK-based applicants in 2009 applying with qualifications that did not include A levels (as compared with around 32% in 1999).

The review will also address concerns that the Tariff is being used in ways for which it was not intended:

• The ’UCAS points score’, determined by the Tariff, is often taken at face value, meaning that neither applicants nor HE institutions gain a full understanding of a qualification’s suitability.

• Given the range of different higher education courses available, the Tariff score does not show how a particular qualification could be more appropriate to support admission to some courses than others.

• Not all qualifications used to apply for higher education (by both home and international students) are on the UCAS Tariff so it isn’t a universal measure.

• There is some evidence that graduate recruitment schemes and internships are using online applications which include tariff requirements in order to proceed with an application.

Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS Chief Executive continues: ‘UCAS is facilitating this review, which will be highly consultative and led by the HE sector itself. We are expecting the process to take between 18 and 24 months and throughout that period it will remain business as usual for the Tariff until the review is finalised. This announcement therefore has no impact on applications during 2010 or 2011.’

For more information on the Tariff and for factsheets on the announcement visit

Notes to editors

UCAS is a charity and is the world’s leading shared admissions service for higher education. We manage applications for full-time undergraduate courses, together with applications through GTTR (Graduate Teacher Training Registry), CUKAS (Conservatoires UK Admissions Service) and UKPASS (UK Postgraduate Application and Statistical Service).

Since its inception in 1993, UCAS has processed around 30 million applications and placed over 5 million students on higher education courses.

Services include:

• An informative website ( enabling students and parents to access a wealth of information designed to help their application to higher education run smoothly.

• A state-of-the-art contact centre (0871 468 0 468) providing a point of contact for students, schools and higher education institutions.

• An online application system.

• A simple, straightforward tracking service enabling students and schools advisers to access up-to-date information about their applications at the click of a button.

• Over 50 higher education events each year providing 250,000 students with face-to-face advice on the UCAS process. Internationally, we participated in events in over 12 countries and also provided training and professional development throughout Europe and beyond.


Darren Barker, Corporate Communications Executive, Tel: 01242 55723,

Lisa Davies, Corporate Communications Officer, Tel: 01242 544 619,


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