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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:43 pm 
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Location: Essex
My memory of what some people have posted on TSR is that in some other countries, the university term actually starts rather earlier than at the majority of UK universities. I'm fairly certain my friend's DD2 started first year at her American university in London in August, as well.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:51 pm 
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With the virtual abolition of AS levels there has already been a claw back of teaching time.
Also, it's only A levels that are so late on.
Couldn't we just make the exams a bit earlier so results are out a bit sooner?
If the teaching time for A levels finished earlier would it be possible to employ more good staff for marking and speed up the turn around? Maybe too much government intervention to redeploy teachers for marking.

Another idea is to cut down on the number of applications to be processed by changing the UCAS system eg having less initial choices and a quicker turn around with a second process for those not getting offers.
For PGCE ( not up to date ) it used to be one application at a time - first choice rejected you then you applied to second. Not sure this would be a good idea for undergraduate but maybe a move towards it?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:10 pm 
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In Ireland the Leaving cert results (the Irish equivalent of the IB / A-levels) come out at the same time as A-levels in mid-August. Irish universities start in early September, just a couple of weeks later.

For subjects other than medicine / vocational related ones, there is no personal statement, school reference, interview or other non-exam result process. You simply list up to 10 course preferences in order and you are offered your highest ranked preference that has places based on the number of points you get from your Leaving cert. Previous years give you a good indication of how many points you will need for each course, so you can target what you want to do accordingly and have plenty of space for “aspirational”, “likely” and “didn’t go so well” options. This eliminates many of the situations that UK students find themselves in where you have to come down to just one firm and one insurance choice or over/under estimate what you might achieve. It also eliminates unconditional offers for people without results.

They require a quick response and there are two or three rounds to allow people to accept or reject a place and if you get a higher ranked place on your list you can trade up.

Obviously, there are potential issues in terms of accommodation, but that is typically done by going into a lottery in advance and if you get a place at your chosen university then you get your choice of accommodation based on those lottery results and what rooms are left! Not ideal, but the current UK accommodation system also leaves a fair amount to be desired…

The whole process doesn’t require weeks or months of sorting out. However, because the leaving cert has eight grade levels and six subjects, there are lots of different points levels available. With A-levels, you could end up with a large number of people on the same point score, making it more difficult. The sheer size of the UK university market might mean you would end up finding it impossible to get into some universities without silly results or conversely having other universities with very few students. I’m also not sure whether the Irish system currently has the ability to differentiate and deal with contextual offers, though you may be able to code for different points requirements for disadvantaged pupils. Mature students get looked at separately and offered places in advance based on their history / results.

My son is currently doing his A-levels and applied to both the UK and Irish system this year and the Irish one was far easier and, in many ways, fairer. It certainly has potential benefits, though there are some limitations and whether it would work in the UK is difficult to know.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:00 pm 
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Great believer in a gap year, it's the best thing ds1 could have done.

However, I can appreciate it not everybody's choice so, bring the A level results forward a couple of weeks, push the Uni start dates back a couple of weeks (or scrap freshers' week) and you have gained a month! Surely that's plenty of time?

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:20 pm 
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Does anyone know why a gap year is not recommended for Maths? And are there any other subjects for which it isn’t recommended?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2018 6:49 am 
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My understanding was that it's about being out of practice but it could be an historical thing. G55 will know better.
Interestingly it was only maths department at DCs' school who set summer work between GCSE and year 12.
DCs got feedback on several occasions for more theoretical STEM that it wasn't encouraged.
If you aren't sure/ ready to go then there are ways to demonstrate how you plan to keep the material fresh.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:01 am 
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My family in the states had to apply when the course date opened. They knew their number of points/credits so already knew if they would qualify for their course. One chose a niche course with something like 12 places on it. The course application opened at midnight and they had to go online to book it. First come, first served. :shock: I remember them being hugely stressed and three people logging on in the house at midnight in the hope that one of them would manage to get her onto the course. A centralised system would seem preferable.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:08 am 
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KS10 wrote:
Does anyone know why a gap year is not recommended for Maths? And are there any other subjects for which it isn’t recommended?
I wonder if some of it is urban myth, like the not taking a gap year before Oxbridge thing (I know 5 students going to Oxford after gap years this year). The daughter of a friend of mine took a gap year and then went to Liverpool to study Maths; another friend is doing the same this year at another university.

Loobylou - I am not sure many people would necessarily look to the US for a model of a better system. A New Zealand friend says theirs is better (and he works in education at a senior level so might know - I don't!); and my Canadian relatives were shocked by the feeding frenzy here on results day, but I don't know how theirs works either.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:11 am 
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Some university departments still do not encourage gap years for maths - I think they are concerned about 'losing' knowledge and the regular practice.

I think other STEM degrees have similar concerns but it varies considerably between courses and unis.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:04 pm 
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Thanks, everyone. No such concerns for Arts / Humanities then. That’s good.


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