Qualification reform

Loughborough University Policy statement: Qualification reform in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland and admission to Loughborough

We appreciate that this is an extremely challenging time for schools and colleges, advisers, and prospective applicants as we face significant levels of qualification reform. For universities one of the key challenges that we will encounter is the wide variety of qualifications that an applicant may present. Not only will the constituent countries of the UK be providing different types of qualifications but the phased implementation of subjects will see applicants offering a mixture of both old and new style qualifications. For schools and colleges we appreciate that there may be significant pressures on funding and teaching with regard to the post-16 curriculum.

We have been carefully considering the various reforms to qualifications and the statement below outlines Loughborough University’s view on the fundamental aspects of the changes to the new curriculum environment. We will review our position as further details of reforms come to light, and as schools and colleges adapt their teaching provision. However, it is our hope that this initial statement will help guide schools, colleges and prospective applicants in making informed decisions about their studies, while at the same time, reassuring them of our continued commitment to fair admissions and to attracting applicants who have the potential to flourish at Loughborough.

We do not currently plan to make major revisions to specific course entry requirements. However, we will be reviewing the new content and assessment specifications on a course by course basis and some adjustments to subject requirements may need to be made in advance of publication of the 2017 Undergraduate Prospectus. We will closely monitor the performance of applicants as the reforms proceed and where necessary will respond to any developing trends. We do not currently anticipate introducing any admissions tests as a result of these reforms.

We strongly recommend that schools and colleges use the reference as part of the UCAS application to provide a clear explanation of any restrictions or difficulties an applicant may have faced in terms of subject availability, along with an explanation of the styles of qualifications that have been taken.

UCAS are providing a range of support materials to help raise awareness during the transitional years.

A/AS Level

We encourage schools to continue to offer a wide range of A Level subjects where possible. A Levels are still highly sought after qualifications by both universities and employers. While some subjects may not necessarily be required for course specific university study, there may be others that act as ‘facilitating’ subjects, enabling prospective applicants to keep their options open for later university study or training. We would advise potential applicants to look closely at the University’s online prospectus to ensure they can meet all pre-requisite subject requirements for the degrees of interest to them.

We welcome evidence of breadth of study which may be provided by a fourth subject at AS Level or an Extended Project Qualification. Additional study, in a variety of forms, can act as effective preparation for the demands of university level study. However, offers will generally be based on achievement in three A Levels *. While not stipulated as part of the original offer, we may consider additional study upon receipt of final results in August, where it may provide additional context for applicants who have narrowly missed the conditions of their offer. However, we will continue to be mindful that applicants apply from a variety of schools and colleges, each offering their students access to a different range and number of subjects at varying levels.

* In the case of entry to degree courses offered by our Department of Mathematical Sciences, applicants may be made an alternative offer if taking Further Mathematics to at least AS Level.

We appreciate that some students may apply to university in the next few years with a mix of old and new style A/AS Levels. We will not discriminate between different styles of these qualifications. Decisions will continue to be made holistically, based on a wide range of factors including predicted grades, previously achieved qualifications, the strength of the personal statement and the evidence of achievement and potential provided in the academic reference.

We strongly recommend that some form of formal assessment occurs to help inform an applicant’s predicted grades, whether achieved by external AS Level examinations or by internal assessment. However, this decision ultimately rests with the individual school or college and the student, and we will not seek to disadvantage an applicant if the results of an external assessment are not available. Where they are available, we will use them in situations where we may want to confirm the accuracy of A Level grade predictions. If a student is being predicted well above externally assessed achievement then we would expect the academic reference from the school or college to clearly highlight why such significant improvement is projected.

We believe that practical skills in science are important to aid understanding of the relevant subject. As such we will ask for the practical skills element of a science A-level to be passed as part of the conditions of offer for those studying science subjects in England where it is relevant to the course to which they have applied.


We appreciate that some students may apply to university in the next few years with a mix of old and new style GCSEs. We will not discriminate between different versions of these qualifications.

Specific course requirements for GCSE achievement have been adjusted to fit the new numerical grading format in England, using guidance from Ofqual on grade equivalences.

  • Where Grade C is currently required for admission we will ask for a Grade 4
  • Where Grade B is currently required, we will ask for a Grade 6
  • Where Grade A is currently required, we will ask for Grade 7
  • We will continue to ask for GCSE grades A to C for applicants from Wales and Northern Ireland

We will require all applicants to achieve at least a Grade 4 or Grade C in English and in some cases, Mathematics (where appropriate to the course).

Other qualifications

Welsh Baccalaureate

We are aware of the changes being made to the Welsh Baccalaureate and will continue to recognise the qualification and welcome the Welsh Baccalaureate Core (and from 2015 Skills Challenge Certificate) as evidence of valuable additional study. In most subjects, Welsh applicants will be expected to offer at least two A Levels alongside the newly reformed Welsh Baccalaureate Core/SCC, at A*-C grades. For some courses, where a need for pre-requisite subject knowledge must be demonstrated, applicants will be expected to achieve three A Levels at the appropriate grades and in such cases offers would not normally make reference to the Core/SCC. If the Welsh Baccalaureate Core/Skills Challenge Certificate is not accepted for a particular degree we will ensure that course requirements relating to this qualification are clearly advertised.

Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers

When new Advanced Highers are introduced, we will continue to require at least two (sometimes in specified subjects), alongside at least three Highers in other subjects. Schools, colleges and applicants are encouraged to consider a challenging and broad volume of studies for the final school year as we feel this is useful preparation for university study.

Core Maths

We support the ethos behind the introduction of this new qualification in that it may be beneficial to a range of degree subjects that do not generally ask for A Level Mathematics but where enhanced numerical or statistical skills may be helpful. For this reason, we encourage applicants to consider taking this qualification where practical. However, we are aware that the school curriculum and/or timetabling may prohibit this, so it is not our intention to require this new qualification, unless specified in an individual degree course’s entry requirements. Core Maths qualifications have been equated to half the size of an A-level (180 Guided Learning Hours) so we do not expect Core Maths to be a suitable replacement for those courses that stipulate A Level Mathematics as a pre-requisite subject.


We are aware of the changes in the assessment of Level 3 vocational qualifications, such as BTEC and Cambridge Technicals, and will continue to monitor these as they are established. We will continue to accept students with relevant BTEC, Cambridge Technical and other vocational qualifications as well as more commonly, combinations of A Levels and vocational qualifications. We would advise potential applicants to look closely at the online prospectus to ensure they can meet all pre-requisite subject requirements.

This statement is based on information available to the University at the time of writing (13 April 2015) and should guidance from regulatory and/or awarding bodies be amended, the University will review its statement in the light of those changes and in that context it reserves the right to amend and/or withdraw some or all of this guidance. Any enquiries about the University approach should be directed to admissions@lboro.ac.uk.

Revised 11 July 2016.