BOURNEMOUTH University defended its approach to student admissions after it was found to have handed out the eighth most offers with unconditional elements across the UK.

Data released by UCAS, showed that the expanding university, which is currently carrying out developments at its Lansdowne and Talbot campuses, gave out 3,420 conditional unconditional offers in 2018.

This type of offer is defined as one made by a university which was originally conditional, but becomes unconditional if the applicant selects that offer as their firm (first) choice. These offers, coupled with 890 unconditional offers from the Dorset establishment, made up 49.5 per cent of all the 8,705 offers given out last year.

This marked an increase compared from 16 per cent (1,505 unconditional offers out of 9,395 in total) in 2017. In both 2013 and 2014, unconditional offers made up less than half a per cent of that respective year’s BU offers.

Last year was the first time the Fern Barrow-based establishment had implemented its conditional unconditional scheme.

However, the use of such initiatives has been criticised by higher education regulator, the Office for Students.

The independent body’s chief executive, Nicola Dandridge, said there are some good reasons for universities to offer unconditional offers, but a number of establishments should reconsider their approach where they cannot justify the offers they make.

A spokesman for BU said: “BU has an unconditional offer scheme which is for applicants with a strong academic profile, which recognises their performance and potential to succeed at university.

“Our scheme is transparent to all applicants and provides security for students while still encouraging them to work hard in their studies, with the opportunity to achieve an academic scholarship if they do well in their exams.

“We also make unconditional offers if an applicant has already met the entry requirements for their chosen course.

“We review our admissions strategy each year, of which unconditional offers are one part, to ensure the principles are equitable and will ensure all future students at BU have the best opportunity to succeed.”