University of Leicester policy statement on qualifications reform in England

Policy statement on qualifications reforms in England October 2016

The University of Leicester acknowledges the challenges faced by potential applicants, and their schools and colleges, as a result of significant changes to the post-16 curriculum in England. This document provides a brief overview of the reforms and sets out our current policy. 

AS and A-level reforms

AS and A-levels are being reformed between September 2015 and 2017. The AS-level is being decoupled from the A level and both qualifications are becoming become linear, with examinations taken at the end of the course.

Ofqual has announced a phased approach to introducing subjects to the reformed model from 2015, with some subjects being introduced for first teaching in 2017. We recognise that, until 2019, students will possess a mixture of both old and reformed qualifications when they progress to University.


We recognise that some schools and colleges will continue to offer AS-level provision, and will enter candidates for assessment, whereas others will choose to assess student progression and achievement internally. With this context in mind, we will ensure that applicants to the University of Leicester are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by the availability of AS-levels in their school or college.

When considering applicants for entry to our programmes, we will continue to use a variety of measures, the most important of which are predicted A-level and achieved GCSE grades, as well as the reference and personal statement.

General Studies

We accept General Studies A-level in all subject areas except Biological and Medical Sciences, Medicine and Economics.

Science Practicals

The reformed A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and Physics will include a pass/fail assessment of practical skills which is separate to the grading of the written examination.

Where a student is seeking to progress to a degree programme in a science or engineering discipline, we require a pass in the practical element of the reformed science A-levels. This requirement will be made explicit in any offers we issue.

If a student has taken a reformed science A-level and is seeking entry to a non-science degree programme, a pass in the practical element will not be required: only the overall A-level grade will be specified in the conditions of the offer.


GCSE subjects in England will be reformed between September 2015 and 2017 and, as with AS and A-levels, this will be a phased approach. The alpha grading system will replaced by a numeric system, comprising of grades 9 (the highest grade) to 1 (the lowest grade). We have considered the changes to the grading system and can confirm the following equivalencies:

Old scaleNew scale
A* 8 or higher
A 7 or higher
B 5 or higher
C 4 or higher

In cases where a specific subject is required as part of the offer, we will specify the appropriate numeric grade.

Core Maths

We welcome the new Core Maths qualification but recognise that not all schools and colleges will offer the qualification at this time.  It will not typically form part of an offer but will be considered alongside other qualifications.  For those programmes where grade B (5) in Maths GCSE is a requirement, grade C in Core Maths is an acceptable qualification.

Updated October 2016

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