This article, which is based on research funded by the Nuffield Foundation, examines the responses of higher education institutions (HEIs) to the recent reform of advanced level qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, known as Curriculum 2000. The research, undertaken in late 2002 and early 2003 following the ‘graduation’ of the first cohort of Curriculum 2000 learners, combined documentary analysis, use of national survey findings and interviews with a sample of university admissions tutors from new (post-1992) and old (pre-1992) universities in England. The research shows that HEIs were generally well-informed about most aspects of the advanced level reforms and, at the level of public statements, welcomed the possibility of a broader advanced level curriculum. However, this relatively positive approach was not reproduced in terms of offer-making to candidates: admissions tutors, particularly in the pre-1992 universities, continued to make offers largely on the basis of predicted grades in three main A Levels. We argue that the reason for this cautious approach by the HEIs was not simply a result of their traditional support for subject specialisation, but also stemmed from systemic problems related to the Curriculum 2000 qualifications, their voluntarism and their less than universal up-take by schools, colleges and learners. We conclude by looking briefly at the implications of these research findings for the future reform of 14-19 curriculum and qualifications in England
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