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Soft Subjects

Britain’s top universities are warning teenagers that they will harm their chances of a place if they study ‘soft subjects’ in the sixth form. The universities are insisting that pupils take traditional subjects if thy want to be considered for respectable degree courses.

Those applying with A-Levels in subjects such as Media Studies or Travel and Tourism Studies can potentially be rejected on subject choice alone, regardless of whether they achieve the desired grade.

The blacklisted subjects however are not necessarily those that one might expect to be shunned by institues of higher learning, and can include popular subjects such as Art, Music, Business Studies and English Language. The move to phase out “unacceptable” A Levels emerged after the pass rate rose for the 24th successive year to a record 96.6%. The rise in the proportion of ‘A’ grades awarded was the second largest in 40 years. Admissions tutors at Nottingham insist that a lower grade in an academic subject such as History or Mathematics will be of more use than a high grade in an apparently easier alternative.

Whilst Nottingham admissions tutors do not explicitly have a ‘blacklist’ of soft subjects, a quick flick through the prospectus makes it clear that in reality, they do. For a BA in English, the prospectus states that GCSEs and A-Levels in “classical or foreign languages” are an advantage. In the same way, Law A-Level is “acceptable but does not give any advantage” when applying to study for a Law degree. Now that Cambridge has published its own ‘blacklist’, it will be interesting to see how many other universities follow

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