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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
EU Students Studying in the UK
July 4, 2018
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The government have announced that the status of EU students studying in the UK will remain the same for an extra year after Brexit.

Damian Hinds said: “Students from the EU make an important contribution to the universities sector and it is a testament to our system that so many students from abroad choose to come and study here,” Hinds said. “Today we are providing clarity and certainty on their fees for the duration of their courses.”

This clearly does not represent a long-term solution but is likely to be welcomed by HE institutions as a necessary short-term step, to clarify the position of EU students.

The HE Commission is due to publish its report on HE Exports in September. 

 

Universities Minister Calls for a Better Deal for Students
June 8, 2018
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Speaking at the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) conference  (7 June) Sam Gyimah said there are courses on offer that do not lead to rewarding careers and made clear that all students deserve an excellent university experience.

The Minister was speaking ahead of the publication of new analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), commissioned by the Department for Education, which confirms a vast difference in earnings potential for graduates – emphasising the fact that where and what you study really matters and can significantly affect future earnings and career prospects.

The IFS analysis shows that women who study one of the bottom 100 courses have earnings up to 64% (approximately £17,000) less than the average degree after graduation. For men, it can be up to 67% (approximately £21,000).

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:

Today’s publication has important and far-reaching ramifications for the debate on value for money in Higher Education.

These findings demonstrate that studying the same subject at a different institution can yield a very different earnings premium. The choices that students make about what and where to study does matter.

We must build a system where everyone with the ability to benefit from a university education has the opportunity to attend, the information they need to make the right decision, and that when they go to university, they receive a first-rate education that delivers real value for money.

The Minister went on to challenge universities to review their offer to students: Read more

University ‘Student Outcomes’ Funding Cut
May 15, 2018
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A number of post-92 English universities will lose a considerable amount of direct teaching funding next year.

The Office for Students announced that funding allocated to prevent disadvantaged students from dropping out of university would be reduced by £30 million to £165 million in 2018-19 for full-time undergraduates.  

This reduction in the “premium to support successful outcomes” is one of the main reasons behind the overall drop. London Metropolitan University, Leeds Beckett University and Manchester Metropolitan University will have their funding cut by over £1 million.

Since the hike in tuition fees in 2012, direct teaching grants have not been as important to universities. Yet they will provide £1.3 billion in revenue to institutions next year.  

Read the Article Here.

HE Policy Institute Report
April 6, 2018
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The HE Policy Institute (HEPI) published a new report looking at demand for higher education over the next decade and painting a positive picture with changes in demography and participation likely to fuel demand potentially to some 300,000 extra students but with issues like Brexit, funding and reputation likely to remain defining factors.

Access The Report Here