The university term could be pushed back to October and A-level results day moved to July under Government plans for a radical shake-up of the admissions system. Under a “post-qualification application” model, students would only apply to university after receiving their A-level grades meaning that admissions tutors would no longer need to rely on predicted grades when making offers. Results day would need to be moved from mid-August to the end of July and the autumn term at universities would start “no earlier than the first week of October” to allow enough time for students to make their applications over the summer holidays. This is one of two options being proposed by the Department for Education (DfE) in a consultation document published on Thursday. The other option – called the “post-qualification offers” system – would see students apply to university prior to results day but only receive their offers after finding out their A-level grades. Last year, vice-Chancellors and Ucas, the university admissions service, signalled that they would be prepared to back fundamental changes to the admissions system. Officials at the DfE believe that moving to a post-qualifications application model would benefit disadvantaged students, as research shows they tend to receive lower predicted A-level grades than they go on to achieve. It would remove the problem of institutions handing out unconditional offers which can lead to students slacking with their school work since they have a university place guaranteed. Moving to a post-qualification application model would also solve the issue of unreliable predicted grades, where universities complain that teachers make unrealistic forecasts about what students are capable of achieving. Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said that the current system can “let down” pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds as well as “limit aspirations”. “It has never been more important to level the playing field to ensure young people of all backgrounds have the very best opportunities to succeed for the future,” she said. “That is why we are consulting and working with the sector to explore how to achieve a system which works better to propel students into promising opportunities, and allows schools, colleges and universities to support them to reach their full potential.” White students are more likely than other ethnic groups to have their grades under predicted, an official equality analysis found, meaning they would stand to benefit the most from a post-qualifications admissions system. It said that Asian students are 10 percentage points less likely to be under predicted than their white peers, while black students are 15 percentage points less likely to be under predicted. The DfE’s equality analysis also found that on average, poorer students are the most likely to be over predicted by more than one grade and are less likely to be underpredicted. But the brightest disadvantaged students are more likely to have their grades underpredicted than bright students from weather backgrounds, meaning that changing the admissions system would benefit clever students from poor families.