Uni entry: ‘Record number’ of sixth-formers put in extra projects

Aug 7, 2015 by

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Record numbers of sixth-formers are thought to have taken a dissertation-style project this year to give them an edge in their university applications.

Education expert Prof Alan Smithers estimates 35,000 pupils have submitted an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) which counts as half an A-level.

This is twice the number who took EPQs in England and Wales five years ago.

Taken alongside A-levels, it is used by top universities as a tie-breaker to tell talented students apart.

Head teachers said the qualification was becoming increasingly popular and could help to strengthen a candidate’s university application.

‘Strengthened position’

Students choose a topic, plan and research the issue, and present their results, often as a written report, but sometimes as a production such as a fashion or sports event.

Figures published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) show that last summer, 33,245 candidates took the qualification, up by 108% from 15,958 in 2010.

Professor Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment, Research at Buckingham University, suggested there have been around 2,000 more entrants this year.

The final numbers for this year will be published by the JCQ when data on A-level results is published next week.

The rise in recent years may be down to schools seeing the qualification as good for helping students adjust to the demands of university, he added.

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “Extended projects are becoming more and more popular.

“They are liked by universities and can help to strengthen a candidate’s application.

“They are phenomenally valuable in giving young people the opportunity to prepare themselves for university where they will spend much of their time studying and learning through their own research and reading.”

Source: Uni entry: ‘Record number’ of sixth-formers put in extra projects – BBC News

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