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Extra University Places Announced

Over 9,000 additional places approved at UK universities for courses to deliver vital services and support the economy.

Published 30 July 2020 From: Department for EducationDepartment of Health and Social Care, and Michelle Donelan MP

Michelle Donelan

Extra university places for engineering, science and nursing courses have been made available for September, the Universities Minister has announced today.

Michelle Donelan has confirmed that the Government has approved over 9,000 additional places at UK universities for courses that will deliver vital services, support the economy and generate positive outcomes for students and the taxpayer.

As part of the Government’s aim to drive an increase in science and innovation and encourage STEM subject take-up, it has approved more than 1,300 extra university places for engineering courses, 756 places for bio-sciences and almost 500 for maths courses.

A total of 5,611 places for healthcare courses have also been allocated at universities in England to support the NHS, with 3,803 of these additional places going to nursing courses.

Last month the Prime Minister stated that investing in skills is crucial to our economic recovery post-coronavirus.

Today’s announcement will not only help thousands more people gain knowledge that will help them progress in life, but also to help rebuild Britain.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said:

The coronavirus will not stop us from boosting growth in vital subjects like science, engineering, and maths.

These courses not only deliver some of the best outcomes for students, they will also be integral to driving innovation, helping our public services and building the skills the country needs.

Bids for extra places were assessed on the quality of each provider, including their rates of continuation and graduate employment outcomes. In total there were 3,859 eligible bids from 38 providers for additional places on courses of strategic importance. All bids that met the set criteria have been accepted.

Bids for healthcare courses in England totalled 5,611 and the Department for Health and Social care have accepted all additional places.

The allocation of places announced today follows the introduction of temporary student number controls, in which institutions were given the opportunity to bid for 10,000 additional places – at least 5,000 for healthcare courses and 5,000 for courses of strategic importance.

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International: The best Australian Universities to Study Health Services and Support

A career in health services and support is a rewarding experience as it makes a big difference in people’s lives.

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Whether it’s a position as a dental assistant, anaesthetist or carer, there are plenty of job opportunities in health services, as it’s one of the fastest-growing industries.

The Good Universities Guide rankings look at Australian universities’ specific strengths, offering insight to support and guide decision-making when choosing a university. View the rankings in terms of how each university performs overall, or you can narrow down by field of study and state.

We looked at which universities with undergraduate health services and support degrees performed best in full time employment, teaching quality and graduate salary.

Full Time Employment

This rating compares the employment rates of graduates at different universities. It looks at the proportion of graduates who were employed full time four months after completing a course. UNSW Sydney ranked highest, achieving a full score of 100%, while University of Tasmania scored 87.10%. CQUniversity placed third in this rating with 84.50%.

Teaching Quality

This rating looks at the proportion of students who were satisfied with the quality of teaching they experienced. It’s based on students’ ratings of their overall educational experience and the quality of teaching they received. Australian National University ranked highest with 100%. Following closely behind, Bond University placed second with 97.60%.

Graduate Salary

This rating compares the median salary of graduates from different universities. University of Tasmania takes the top spot with their graduates earning a median salary of $82,000, while UNSW Sydney followed with $75,000.

View all 2020 rankings for nursing health services and support by The Good Universities Guide here — filter by level to view both undergraduate and postgraduate ratings.

Would Filling Careers Advice Gaps Make University Applications Fairer?
February 21, 2020
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The majority of students and recent graduates believe the university application process is fair, however, the support they receive making their career choices is a concern for many.

New Savanta ComRes polling for Universities UK (UUK) of almost 1,500 British adults who applied to university or college in the UK between 2015-2019 has found that seven in ten (70%) recent applicants think the current process is fair, although more than one in four recent applicants (28%) disagree that the application process works well in its current state.

Key findings

  • Almost two thirds of recent applicants (64%) agree that the application process works well in its current state.
  • Those who consider the application process to be unfair, most commonly say this is because the career advice they were given wasn’t very helpful (34%). The second most frequently given reason is that the application process is too long (29%) including 40% of applicants who are the first in their immediate family to apply to university (vs. 24% of those who are not).
  • Applicants report mixed feelings about whether their offers drive them to perform well academically. While four in five (82%) say their offers motivated them to work harder, half (55%) say they made them complacent in studying for exams. Those with contextual offers were more likely than those with conditional offers to say that their offers made them less stressed about the admissions process (78% contextual vs. 69% conditional) and more likely to be complacent in studying for exams (74% contextual vs. 55% conditional).
  • The vast majority of applicants (79%) feel very or fairly well supported by universities and colleges during the applications process.
  • Those receiving contextual offers are twice as likely to say they do not understand the different types of offers (27% vs 13% overall).
  • While almost two-thirds of applicants (64%) think it is fine to apply with predicted grades, one in three (29%) applicants described not having exam results before applying to university as a challenge. More than half of recent applicants (56%) feel universities and colleges should only make offers after people have received their academic results.
  • BAME applicants and those who were the first in their immediate family to apply to university are more likely to agree that offers should be made after receiving academic results (60% BAME applicants vs. 54% White applicants; 63% first in immediate family vs. 49% not first).

The findings are among those being used to inform a major review of university admissions, established by UUK in July 2019, involving UCAS, school, college, student and university representatives. It is examining the evidence and will recommend improvements to ensure the system works in students’ best interests.

The ‘Fair admissions review’ advisory group will also consider the value of applicants receiving offers after they have received their academic results.

Professor Julia Buckingham, President of UUK and Vice-Chancellor & President of Brunel University London, said:

“These findings will inform the recommendations of the ‘Fair admissions review’ advisory group on how the system can be made fairer and operate in the best interests of all applicants. The group is considering the impact of different types of offers on students and whether it would be beneficial for applicants if universities offered places after they have their grades.

“On the whole university admissions are seen as fair, but all students must have faith in the system and receive careers advice to help them make the best decisions about what and where to study. It is the job of universities, colleges, employers, schools and the government to work together to fill the gaps in good quality careers advice for applicants, and particularly to disadvantaged groups.

“We want to do more to accelerate progress on widening participation at university. The advisory group will make recommendations on the role of good careers advice, contextual offers, bursaries and other incentives in encouraging applications by students from underrepresented communities. These findings point to the need for universities to better explain and increase understanding of contextual offers and their impact on students.”

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive said:

‘Its welcome news that most students agree the current application process is fair, and that the clear majority of applicants felt supported when applying, particularly by UCAS.

‘Wider careers advice is an area that students feel they need more support with though, and we are playing an increasingly vital role as they make big decisions about their futures. This year we launched our new UCAS Hub, meaning that for the first time, all students will have access to online personalised information and advice to support them as they consider all their options. We’ve also just integrated key content from Which? University into the UCAS website providing students and their advisers with easy access to valued, independent advice.’

‘This year, we’re expecting some universities’ offer-making strategies to change, though we need to ensure that the admissions process remains fair and transparent for years to come. We are already exploring innovative reforms to the admissions process, including how changing when students receive offers could bring benefits.’

Savanta ComRes conducted interviews online with 1,499 adults aged 18+ who have applied to a UK university/college/other higher education institution between 2015-2019 and have been UK residents at the time of applying. Data was weighted by age, gender and region in order to be representative of all applicants between 2015-2019. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. An executive summary of the findings is attached to this email and full tables are available at 

Separately, a total of 181 higher education providers, schools, colleges, current students, recent graduates, parents, employers, representative groups and other bodies responded to UUK’s call for evidence, which is also informing the work of the ‘Fair admissions review’ advisory group.

The ‘Fair admissions review‘ advisory group is made up of UCAS, school, college, student, and university representatives. It is expected to publish its findings in spring 2020.

The review will be sensitive to the different contexts that higher education providers are operating in across different UK nations, and work to complement successful initiatives already underway in different parts of the UK.

Contextual offers – lower grade entry requirements – recognise the potential of students whose personal circumstances, such as caring responsibilities and living in the most deprived areas, may have restricted their achievements at school or college.

The chair of the ‘Fair admissions review’ advisory group is Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor & President, Ulster University. 

Other members are: Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor, Durham University; Debra Gray, Principal, Grimsby Institute; Professor David Green CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Worcester; Caroline Hoddinott, Headteacher at Haybridge High School and Sixth Form; Tracey Lancaster, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Resources), Leeds Beckett University; Beth Linklater, Assistant Principal, Queen Mary’s College, Basingstoke; Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St Andrews; Clare Marchant, Chief Executive, UCAS; Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, University of Bath; David Ruck, Head of Higher Education and Careers, Bristol Grammar School; Lee Sanders, Registrar and Secretary, University of Birmingham; Claire Sosienski Smith, Vice-President for Higher Education, National Union of Students; Professor Mary Stuart CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lincoln; Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Canterbury Christ Church University; Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor, Aberystwyth University; Jo Wilson, Head of Sixth Form, The Pingle Academy, Derbyshire; Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham Trent University.

Two-Thirds of Universities and Colleges Have Seen Rise in Student Drop-Out Rates
January 9, 2020
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Two-thirds of UK universities and colleges have seen a rise in the proportion of students dropping out in recent years.

Data analysed by the Press Association found that in the period from 2011-12 to 2016-17, 100 higher education institutions (67 per cent) saw an increase in the proportion of students dropping out.

Forty-six institutions (31 per cent) saw a fall in dropout rates, while the figure was unchanged at four universities and colleges.

The largest proportional increase was seen at the University of Abertay, Dundee, which had an 8.6 percentage point rise from 3.5 per cent in 2011-12, to 12.1 per cent in 2016-17.

‘Challenging barriers’

A spokesman for the university said it recognised “there is a need to improve student retention”.

In England, Bedfordshire University had the biggest increase, at 6.9 percentage points, rising from 8.3 per cent in 2011-12 to 15.2 per cent in 2016-17.

A spokeswoman said: “As a widening participation university our students can face challenging barriers to success.

She said many Bedfordshire students are “balancing the responsibilities of family and work with studying for a degree”, and “unable to turn to the bank of ‘mum and dad’”.

‘Up their game’

The analysis was based on data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for 150 universities and colleges, and covers UK, full-time undergraduate students who were no longer in higher education the year after they started their course.

It comes at a time when student welfare is in the spotlight, with universities facing increased scrutiny over the support they give students and the value for money of their degrees.

In September the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, wrote to universities demanding they “up their game” by cutting drop out rates.

Image result for Chris Skidmore, the universities minister

Responding to the latest figures, Chris Skidmore, the universities minister, said: “I want to see each university and indeed courses held individually accountable for how many students are successfully obtaining a degree, so that we can be transparent and open about where there are real problems.”

‘Flourishing’ students

“Many universities are doing excellent work to support students, but it’s essential that dropout rates are reduced. We cannot afford to see this level of wasted talent,” he added.

A spokesman for Universities UK said: “Universities are committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring students from all backgrounds can succeed and progress.”

“This includes supporting students to achieve the best outcomes in not only getting into university, but flourishing while they are there.”

In October i reported that some universities are keeping electronic tabs on their students’ movements and using algorithms to identify those students most at risk of quitting.

Students With Unconditional Offers More Likely to Drop Out
November 5, 2019
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The analysis, published by the Office for Students (OfS), shows that the dropout rate was 10 per cent higher for students who accepted unconditional offers than would have been expected if they had accepted conditional offers.

Across the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years, this equated to almost two hundred students dropping out who would otherwise have been expected to continue.

This increase explicitly discounts other factors about those students that are associated with dropout rates, including what subject they study and where, and demographic characteristics.

If this pattern persists while rates of unconditional offer making continue to rise, the analysis shows that over 200 students per year could drop out who would otherwise have been expected to continue.

Nicola Dandridge,
chief executive of the OfS

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said:

We already know that students who receive an unconditional offer are more likely to miss their predicted grades at school. It is a cause of real concern that they are also more likely to drop out of university once they get there.

Dropout rates are overall low in England, so this is a small effect. But we are not talking about one or two students. This is a couple of hundred students per year who have made a significant investment of time and money in a degree from which they are unlikely to benefit.

We have always been clear that some unconditional offers are necessary and in a student’s interests. But many of them are not. Although it is up to universities to decide who to admit and how, they must take responsibility for the impact of those decisions, and provide the right support for all students to be successful – especially if the offer they receive makes them less likely to do well at school.

As our regulatory framework sets out, admissions systems must be reliable, fair and inclusive. What we are seeing here are admissions systems that are not fair, and are not working in students’ best interests.’

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:

Universities scrabbling to attract students with unconditional offers are too often focused on the bottom line rather than student interests. These latest figures show that many students are ill-served by the current admissions system, and that there is a real need for urgent reform.

A move to post-qualification admissions, where students receive offers after they their results, would be much fairer to students. It would eradicate the problems associated with unconditional offers, end the gamble of predicted grades and bring the whole of the UK into line with the rest of the world when it comes to university admissions.

The population included in this analysis is 18 year olds in England at universities, colleges and other higher education providers on the OfS Register. 

The non-continuation rate shows the proportion of students who don’t continue from their first to second year, either at the same university or by transferring to another. Our analysis suggests that this rate is 0.65 percentage points higher – or 10 per cent proportionally higher – for students who accept an unconditional offer. In calculating this increase, we have compared students who received conditional and unconditional offers based on their predicted grades and other factors. This means that the impact of receiving an unconditional offer on the grades students actually attain is likely to explain much of the effect on continuation rates.

Record Numbers of Young People in England have Applied to University
July 15, 2019
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On 11th July, UCAS published an analysis of all full-time UCAS Undergraduate applications made by 30 June 2019 – the final deadline for applying to up to five universities or colleges simultaneously.

The analysis is published within nine working days of the deadline.

Across the UK, the key findings are:

  • 39.5 per cent of all 18 year olds in England have submitted a UCAS application, up from 38.1 per cent at the same point last year, and a new record
  • in Northern Ireland, 46.9 per cent of 18 year olds have applied (down 0.7 percentage points)
  • in Scotland, the 18 year old application rate is 32.7 per cent (down 0.1 percentage point)
  • in Wales, the application rate is 32.9 per cent (up 0.2 percentage points), and a joint record with 2016 at this point in the application cycle

The number of young people from the UK applying has increased by 1 per cent, despite a 1.9 per cent fall in the overall 18 year old population of the UK. 275,520 young people have applied – up from 272,920 at this point in 2018.

The volume of EU applicants has risen 1 per cent, to 50,650. There is a record number of applicants from outside the EU – 81,340 students have applied to study in the UK, an increase of 8 per cent.

China continues its rapid growth, with applicant numbers up 30 per cent to 19,760 – this means that, for the first time, there are more applicants from China than Northern Ireland (18,520).

Overall, 638,030 people have applied in the current application cycle – a rise of over 1,000 on 2018. 

For the first time, UCAS has published reports by the various indexes of multiple deprivation across the UK.

  • In England, the number of young people applying from the most deprived areas has increased 6 per cent to 38,770, while applications from the least deprived areas have fallen.
  • In Northern Ireland, all areas have seen a fall in applications, of between 2 and 7 percent. 
  • In Scotland, young applicants from the most deprived areas have grown by 3 per cent, while all other areas have seen falls.
  • In Wales, applicants from the most deprived areas remained at 1,390, with a mixed picture across different areas.

All data is available to analyse in a new interactive dashboard on the UCAS website, allowing users to visualise and tailor the reporting to their own specification. 

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive, said:

‘The global appeal of UK higher education has never been clearer, with record, demographic beating application rates in England and Wales, and the steep rise in international applications, especially from China.

‘Today’s analysis shows how attractive undergraduate study continues to be for young people, although university isn’t the only route on offer. Our survey insight shows that around a quarter of students are interested in apprenticeships as an alternative option.

‘With Clearing now open, there’s plenty of choice for everyone at the end of the year. The post-qualification application route is available as a plan A for many, with over 17,500 using it to apply with results in hand last year.

‘There are opportunities for a new direction on over 30,000 courses at ucas.com, for anyone who’s already applied and now wants to change their mind, as we’ve streamlined the process for those reconsidering their original choices.’

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“It is fantastic to see there are record rates of 18-year-olds in England, including an increase from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, applying to university, along with increasing numbers of applications from international students too.

“International students bring huge cultural and economic benefits to the UK. That is why our International Education Strategy sets out an ambition to increase international student numbers to 600,000 by 2030 and offers a number of measures to support the sector maintain further, sustainable growth from across the world.

“These figures show we are making good progress in our ambition to open up world-leading higher education to anyone who has the potential to benefit from it and I’m confident that we can go even further.”

Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive at Universities UK, said:

“It is very good news that 18 year-olds in England are more likely than ever before to apply to university and positive to see further progress in the amount of applications from young people living in deprived areas. Employer demand for graduates continues to rise – educating more people of all ages at university will grow the economy faster, by increasing productivity, competitiveness, and innovation. Growing the number of graduates will enhance social mobility.

“Our universities have a well-deserved global reputation for high quality teaching, learning and research, delivered by talented staff while students report rising levels of satisfaction with their courses. This is recognised by the increase in the number of international student applications – a record rise from outside the EU – which will bring significant economic benefits to the whole of the UK and enrich our university campuses.”

Employers have told CBI that they expect the greatest demand for skills over the next three to five years will be for people with higher level skills where there is already a much higher employment rate.

By 2030, it is estimated that there will be a UK talent deficit of between 600,000 to1.2 million workers for both our financial and business sector, and technology, media and telecommunications sector.

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK’s shared admissions service for higher education.

They manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people, each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

Scotland

In Scotland, there is a substantial section of higher education that is not included in UCAS’ figures. This is mostly full-time higher education provided in further education colleges, which represents around one third of young full-time undergraduate study in Scotland – this proportion varies by geography and background within Scotland.

Accordingly, figures on applications and application rates in Scotland reflect only those applying for full-time undergraduate study through UCAS.

In the 2015 cycle, there were also changes to the scope of the data recorded in the UCAS scheme for Scotland (including teacher training programmes in Scotland moving from the dedicated UCAS Teacher Training scheme into the UCAS Undergraduate scheme).

Will Studying for a Masters Give me a Career Advantage?
May 28, 2019
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With so much competition in today’s job market, many students consider doing a Master’s Degree before launching themselves into their career. Those graduates who are already working may also consider obtaining a Master’s with a view to boosting their career prospects – and their salary

But do Master’s Degrees really help with you move up the career ladder?

How many people study for a master’s?

There were 566,555 students enrolled in post graduate programmes during 2017/2018, an increase from 551,595 the previous year.

Of these, 284,620 obtained a postgraduate qualification such as a Masters Degree or PhD (source: HESA). With the majority of students under 25, it would seem that most move directly from their undergraduate degree to a master’s.

How much does it cost to do a master’s? Read more

Widening Participation in HE
March 5, 2019
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Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore spoke at Nottingham Trent University outlining his priority to drive improvements in access andChris Skidmore MP participation in higher education. ( Delivered on 28 February 2019)

I am delighted to be here at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) this morning to make my first speech on access and participation. And what better place to do so than at a University that is genuinely leading the way in delivering equality of opportunity to students.

NTU has earned a national reputation for innovation and quality in advancing the social mobility agenda, and I’m pleased to have the opportunity this morning to tour the University’s facilities and to speak to some of the staff and students at the heart of this dynamic community.

I’m also pleased that NTU has today been recognised for its efforts by the Office for Students (OfS), which has awarded the contract for its new ‘Evidence and Impact Exchange’ to a consortium of NTU, Kings College London and the Behavioural Insights Team

Read more

BBC News: University Chief Wants to Bring Back Maintenance Grants
August 7, 2018
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The BBC reports that the head of an elite group of universities has called for maintenance grants to be restored to help improve diversity in higher education.

Tim Bradshaw, who leads the Russell Group, told the Independent the grant could make a “substantial difference” to young people “nervous” about debt

He said it could also encourage more people to consider applying at all.

The government says it has made significant progress in getting disadvantaged students into university.

Maintenance grants used to be given to students in England and Wales from lower income backgrounds – families with annual incomes of £25,000 or less got the full grant of £3,387 a year.

In 2015, the then-Chancellor George Osborne announced they would be scrapped from September 2016.

He said the grants had become “unaffordable” and there was a “basic unfairness in asking taxpayers to fund grants for people who are likely to earn a lot more than them”.

But critics said many low and middle income students could be put off university by the measure. Read more

Partners in Progression: Engaging Parents in University Access
July 23, 2018
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Universities should work with parents to increase access to university, according to a new report published our latest report, published with King’s College London.

The recommendation comes in response to finding that 95% of parents have concerns about their child going to university, including worries about debt, living costs and the support available for students.

This report sets out how parents’ engagement in their children’s education impacts on university progression, examines whether different parents have different attitudes and concerns about higher education, and illustrates how universities can best engage parents and carers in widening participation outreach. It provides schools and universities with an overview of the relationship between parental engagement, attitudes and concerns, and entry to higher education and provides practical guiding principles to shape universities’ and schools’ efforts to engage parents in outreach.

The report draws together findings from a literature review and four strands of primary research: a national survey of parents’ attitudes and concerns; a focus group and interviews with parents; a Freedom of Information Request to 30 top tariff UK universities, and, five in-depth case studies of universities’ parental engagement.

Read the report on parental engagement here