It is possible to assume too much about the new curriculum; whilst the potential of the new qualifications framework is recognised and well understood, it is not yet clear exactly which options will be open to all candidates. Above all other considerations, the University of Durham will strive to maintain as fair an admissions procedure as possible.
We are not sure how many Year 12 AS Levels all schools and colleges will be able to provide to their students; we do not know when AS Level qualifications will be obtained (Year 12 or Year 13); it is not clear how many schools and colleges will offer the Key Skills qualifications, Advanced Extension tests or GNVQs. There is still a great deal of uncertainty. The information available to the University of Durham indicates that the most common post 16 curriculum under the revised system will be four AS Levels taken in Year 12 with three of them continued to A2 Level in Year 13. It is expected that the most able students, in schools and colleges where this combination is possible, will typically present five AS Levels in Year 12 and continue in Year 13 to study either three A2 Levels and one AS Level or four A2 Levels. In addition, a Key Skills qualification may be offered. It is on this basis that departments have issued their statements on the future of their entry requirements.
To ensure equity in the early stages of the new curriculum, the University of Durham will not specify:
how AS and A2 qualifications should be split between Years 12 and 13;
that all applicants should have achieved a Key Skills qualification;
that applicants should have taken an Advanced Extension test.
It is possible that in future years the University or departments within the University may wish to specify any or all of the above. It may be desirable to have universal provision of Key Skills but whilst provision is not universal, we will not make Key Skills a pre-requisite for matriculation.
It would greatly assist the work of Admissions Selectors if, when school/college teachers are writing references on behalf of applicants, they could indicate the options available to students in that school. For example, if an applicant has not offered a Key Skills qualification we would like to know whether this was because the applicant's school/college did not offer that qualification.
The main implication of this uncertainty is that the University will need to be reactive to developments in the post 16 curriculum for several years to come.