This is an interesting piece of work, and valuable in that it shows that a vocational route into university is not necessarily second class to the traditional A-level pathway. Certainly, it is to be hoped that the authors continue and expand their work on a wider scale.
But then we have the press release on the research.
The report, which is due for publication later this year presents a major blow to the present A-level system...A study of 216 students from one institution says nothing to warrant this level of hyperbole - thankfully the authors themselves have said nothing that is unsupported by the results of their work. Edge Hill, with a large proportion of students coming in through widing participation initiatives, is certainly not representative of the UK HE system in general, and their entrants not representative of the A-level cohort. It needs other universities to be involved before anyone can have any meaningful idea about the effectiveness of A-levels.
The BBC, of course, printed the story anyway, presumably on the principle that it said something exciting, and that accuracy was not really a prerequisite. There are already a phenomenal number of misconceptions about HE in this country - do we really need the BBC to help creating more?
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