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The lengthy personal statement students are required to write when applying to university is unfair and should be replaced by a series of short-response questions, a report has suggested.

Currently, students are required to submit a 4,000-character essay on their Ucas forms when applying for UK undergraduate programmes.

But the long-form, free-response nature of the personal statement creates unnecessary pressure for applicants, hinders transparency and exacerbates inequalities, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) said.

The education think tank suggested short-response questions could instead focus on an applicant’s interest in their course and their relevant skills.

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