University of Birmingham policy statement in response to qualification reforms in England

The University of Birmingham understands that potential applicants, as well as schools and colleges, are seeking advice and guidance from universities on the impact of a number of different qualification reforms that will take place over the coming years. The following policy statements are intended to make our current position on these reforms clear and to confirm that we will endeavour not to disadvantage any applicant due to the policy of their school or college with regards to their qualification offering.

AS/A level reforms in England 

The University of Birmingham does not intend to award greater merit to the English linear A level which will be taught for some subjects from September 2015 onwards (and thus be considered for university entry in 2017). However, we will review this position, if necessary, after the first round of delivery of the new A levels.

We do not expect to see AS levels being offered by all applicants once these become decoupled from the A level. The University of Birmingham will not disadvantage applicants who have not had the opportunity to take AS levels at their school/college at the point of initial application and our standard policy is to make offers on the basis of 3 A levels. However, if an applicant fails to meet the terms of their offer an additional qualification, such as an AS level or the Extended Project, may be advantageous, as is currently the case.

We recommend that schools/colleges outline their policy on which qualifications they offer their students in the reference section of the UCAS form in order to provide a context for the applicant’s academic background.

Where an applicant does not offer AS levels we will base our assessment of the academic quality of an application on the basis of GCSE performance and A level predictions as well as the reference and personal statement. 

The University of Birmingham will ask for a pass in the practical element of the reformed science A levels for entry to our Science and Engineering programmes.

GCSE reforms in England 

In relation to GCSE reforms we can confirm our position in terms of equivalencies:

A* = 8

A = 7

B = 6

C = 4

Please note that we currently require a grade C for English and Mathematics for all entrants and specific grades for some programmes if a subject is not offered at A level.

We will not require the English Baccalaureate for entry to our degree programmes but the choice of subjects studied at GCSE may be taken into account when considering an application.

Linked pair of AQA GCSEs in Maths (Applications of Mathematics and Methods of Mathematics)

Where this pair of GCSEs is offered the specific grade requirement for the programme only needs to have been achieved in one of them.

Core Mathematics

Where a programme requires above a grade C in GCSE Mathematics or an AS level in Mathematics it is probable that we will consider the level 3 core Maths qualification as meeting these requirements.

Access to HE 

As regulated GCSE equivalents will no longer be offered as part of the Access to HE qualification, the University of Birmingham will consider some subject specific modules in lieu of GCSE Mathematics and English. However, this will vary from programme to programme and on an individual applicant’s academic background. Therefore it is advised that all such applicants contact the University for further advice on their suitability before submitting an application.

Welsh Baccalaureate Core

Now that the Welsh Baccalaureate Core is graded the University of Birmingham will accept this alongside 2 A levels for entry to our degree programmes (with the exception of very competitive programmes such as Medicine, where three full A levels will still be required). The grade required from the Welsh Baccalaureate Core will be the same as from an A level.