04/04/2012 07:42 BST

Ofqual Backs Michael Gove's Call To Let Universities Set A-Levels

England's qualifications watchdog has given its support to Michael Gove's proposal that universities play a larger role in A-level exams.

In a letter to the education secretary, Ofqual's chief regulator said she "welcomed" Gove's views and agreed universities should be more involved in developing the qualifications "than they do now".

"We would look to universities, working with learned societies and awarding organisations, to agree the subject content of A levels," Glenys Stacey told Gove.

"Even if a particular A-level is developed by a small group of universities, we would want to see a significant number of key universities signed up to it. We will look to the university sector to put in place sensible arrangements for this as soon as possible."

In the letter to Stacey, written on 30 March, Gove stated he believed the "single most important purpose of A-level qualifications is to prepare young people for further study at university".

"Leading university academics tell me that A-levels do not prepare students well enough for the demands of an undergraduate degree. I would therefore like to see universities having far greater involvement than they do at present."

Gove added he envisioned the Department for Education (DfE) withdrawing completely from playing a role in the development of A-levels in the future and is "particularly keen" that universities were able to determine subject content.

But teachers and unions alike issued damning criticisms of the plan.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), deemed the proposal a "quick fix gimmick".

Ofqual is to check how the new A-levels were working in the classroom through teacher feedback. Ofqual aims to start formal consultation on the new arrangements in June.