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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:40 pm 
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Latest figures show that more students than ever are applying for university places this summer to beat the sharp rise in fees next year. Almost 220,000 students are likely to miss out on a place – almost a third of those applying.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/un ... ummet.html


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 2:43 pm 
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My nephew has just taken his a-levels. The future increase in fees has added to the stress of the whole procedure.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:26 am 
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The headline of that article is really naughty. It implies, without the article quite being able to bring itself to say, that were universities to recruit fewer overseas (in fact, non-EU) students there would be more places for home (in fact, EU) students.

There wouldn't.

Quite how it'll shake out post 2012, no-one quite knows, but today universities have two sorts of places: those for home students and those for foreign (same caveats as above) students. The former are limited by an HEFCE quota, and universities are fined for over-recruiting. The latter are limited by space in the building, and pay full fees --- ie, fees that recover a full share of overeheads, and more, as the university is not limited in what it can charge (and indeed, possibly not even space in the building, as the fees may run to building a new one).

If there's evidence that university is recruiting foreign students at below full cost recovery (and aside from the lurid fantasies of the Telegraph commenters, why would they do this?) then HEFCE should be told, as they will come down line a tonne of bricks. In practice, most universities are cross-subsidising out of overseas fees into home fees: that's certainly the source of many bursaries, and indeed PhD studentships.

If universities reduced the number of foreign students they recruited, it would either have no effect on home students (as it wouldn't raise the HEFCE quota by one head) or more likely a deleterious effect, as there would be less overhead recovery and fixed costs (libraries, sports facilities, central IT assets) would be being recovered over a smaller number of students.

EU students are, I think, recruited out of the same headcount as home students, but there's no incentive for the university to actively recruit --- they bring in the same money as home students, but with the extra hassle of equivalencing qualifications --- and anyway few people go outside their home country for first degrees within Europe, partly because many European countries don't have a tradition of "going away" to university, partly because few 16/17 year olds have the incentive to apply abroad, and partly because unless your school is very unusual or your parents particularly clued up, the logistics and process for doing so is quite complex.

There's a lot of reasons why there's more demand for UK degrees than there are places for home students. Full-fee overseas students may not be the solution (although they do help a bit), but they most certainly aren't the problem.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:28 am 
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tokyonambu... maybe you are right, but then that wouldn't make headlines would it? :lol:

It's so much more convenient to shift the blame elsewhere.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 8:41 am 
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agreed yog, wouldn't be headline news.

Am sure Tokyonambu's explanation is correct - twas ever thus when I worked in Unis (and I gather to some extent boarding schools are the same), overseas (non EU) students come with money attached and hence are quite attractive to the instiution.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:19 am 
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I presume the 220,000 students this year who miss out on a place (if the estimate is right) are people who didn't make the grades for their 1st or back-up offer. What's new? Stats have never been the Telegraph's strongpoint - unless you consider abuse of stats to make a good headline a strongpoint.

Sounds like we need as many foreign students as we can get.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:30 am 
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I think that have been a fair few not getting any offers this year - not sure whether they were high flyers with no back up or people who's grades are not great.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:19 am 
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mystery wrote:
I presume the 220,000 students this year who miss out on a place (if the estimate is right) are people who didn't make the grades for their 1st or back-up offer. What's new?


What's new is the grades required. As I presume a forum frequented by people with children in education will have many who went to university, if they did, in the early 1980s, think back. CCC would get you into pretty well any non-Oxbridge university of your choice, if you weren't too fussy about subject, or any subject of your choice, if you weren't too fussy about institution (and I mean "university" --- poly admission requirements were typically DD or less). More popular courses were BCC or BBC. Medicine wasn't the top of the tree for grades either, and offers with an A in them were unheard of for any subject.

The Russell Group university I went to didn't, so far as we can recall (I'm back as a mature post-grad, so have been having these discussions with staff d'une certaine age) have anything offering higher than BBC. Now, AAA is common currency, and my department's AAB is at the lower end. Even if you take the most extreme position on grade inflation, that CCC in the 1980s is BBB now, and BBB wouldn't get you into courses that offered CCC in the 1980s.

Take-up is higher, so there's more competition on places. The Russell Group has been created from whole cloth, so there are more tiers of universities trying to differentiate themselves. There's a nasty feedback loop via publication of "grades achieved" entry standards, which are taken by the naive as a proxy for the quality of the department (rather than just being a proxy for what other applicants think is the quality of the department, the campus, the nightlife, the brand). There's no built-in fallback via the UCCA/PCAS split. There are more people applying to five universities all of which will offer AAB+ and therefore being sunk if they miss a grade, and some universities no long go into clearing. An excess of data and a dearth of information makes people believe that they have to go to the exact university to do the exact course, and therefore they apply more tightly and take more risks. And, and, and.

So I think the Torygraph are overstating the case, but I suspect that there are more people who wanted to go to university, have in principle the grades, but for various reasons don't (in the 1980s, they didn't apply in the first place).

But if someone applies to universities X and Y, says they don't want to go elsewhere because it's not X and Y, and either doesn't get an offer or doesn't get the grades, when there are universities Z1, Z2 and Z3 that would have had them, have they "not got into university" or merely decided not to go to the universities that are on offer?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:13 am 
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hermanmunster wrote:
I think that have been a fair few not getting any offers this year - not sure whether they were high flyers with no back up or people who's grades are not great.


DS1 applied for his '5' abut found that 1 increased their required grades post his application! Did get offers on all, but has friends who haven't had a single offer (mind you one was because the school put down the wrong grades for the boy doing him out of any chance he might have had!)

I think the key was to acknowledge the predicted grades and find courses which aren't out of reach..... then the only thing to do is get the grades you were predicted :roll:

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:52 am 
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hermanmunster wrote:
I think that have been a fair few not getting any offers this year - not sure whether they were high flyers with no back up or people who's grades are not great.


I think a lot of these will be disappointed prospective vet and medical students, who have the grades but can't get a place because there simply are not enough to go round - at least not for students based in this country. I know there were places available via UCAS Extra for the vet science course in Bristol - but only for overseas students paying full whack. Can't blame the universities, I suppose - with all the cuts pending they need to make as much as they can. It's sad, though, that British students seem to be very low down the pecking order when it comes to attending a course in their home country, and of course it all comes down to money as per usual. :roll:

I wonder if the proposal to allow universities to expand the number of places to home students gaining at least AAB will apply to courses that routinely demand top grades?

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Last edited by Marylou on Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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