This is why it’s harder to get into a top uni this year

Three million people applied to uni this year

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s harder than ever to get into a top uni this year.

Analysis conducted by The Times shows that the percentage of successful applications to “high tariff universities” (basically the Russell Group and Oxbridge) has actually decreased this year.

High tarriff universities made offers to 73.4 per cent of those who applied by this time last year, falling to 68.5 per cent this year. This means that students with good grades could potentially be missing out on accessing top unis.

Here’s why universities have found themselves in this situation:

It’s partially a hangover from last year’s A-Level fiasco

A-Levels were cancelled last year, prompting the government to bring in an algorithm to sort out students’ grades. Shock: it was a complete mess.

The algorithm downgraded lots of students unfairly and was duly scrapped. But this meant that students’ grades shot up.

The percentage of A or A* grades went from 27.6 per cent to 38.1 per cent over night, meaning that more students were meeting their offers at top universities.

This year, A-Levels were cancelled again, and teachers were left to calculate their students’ grades.

In response, many Russell Group unis are more reluctant to hand out offers as they may not have enough spaces for applicants who get the necessary grades.

“Russell Group universities are being cautious because of uncertainty over exam results, given the experience of last year,” an anonymous education source told The Times. “Applications are up a lot so the offer rate has gone down.

“Universities have increased offers in terms of numbers but not by as much as applications.”

Three million people applied to a UK uni this year

More people are applying to uni than ever before. Three million people applied to UK universities this year, up 166,830 from this point last year.

Universities try to expand to keep up with rising applications, and while most have increased the number of places at their institutions, there still isn’t enough space to meet the increasing demand for higher education.

Russell Group statement

A spokesman for the Russell Group said: “Higher-tariff universities have responded to this increase in demand by increasing their offers to UK 18-year-olds from all backgrounds, particularly those from the most deprived areas.

“However, it is also right that in making these offers universities consider potential capacity issues, especially in subjects like medicine where the government sets a numbers cap, to ensure they can deliver the high quality education that students rightly expect.”

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