Unis accused of bribing students to attend by offering thousands in cash

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Unis have been accused of bribing students to attend by offering thousands of pounds in cash payments.

Students are offered cash payments of up to £1,200 at unis including Hull, Portsmouth, and Stirling, as “incentives” to get them to take up their places.

A third of unis use incentives to lure students, Freedom of Information requests by the i paper have revealed. Instead of making courses better, unis are “choosing to shamelessly bribe students with these ‘incentives’ even when applicants have not demonstrated any special talent or aptitude,” Tom Richmond, director of think-tank EDSK, told i.

At Northampton, students are given the choice between a free laptop, a £500 discount on halls, or £500 to spend on campus. Northampton says free laptops have enabled students to keep studying during lockdown.

At Hull, students get £1,200 if they get BBC in their A-levels. At Derby, it’s £1,000 if you get BBB and put the uni as your firm.

The “bribes” are also used by unis to attract students from different nations. Stirling gives £1,000 to students from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland who meet their offer.

Queen’s University Belfast gives students from England, Scotland, and Wales who put it as their firm choice a £500 fee discount, plus options of free flights and gym passes.

The prospect of online teaching in September, coupled with a predicted dearth of international students, led to fierce competition for students. Against a backdrop of these fears, unis were told earlier this month they’d be fined up to £500,000 for making “conditional unconditional” offers, which become unconditional only if a student puts the university as their firm choice.

However, despite fears that lockdown would keep students away, new UCAS stats revealed a record number of people applied to uni this year.

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