Cambridge offer-holders told their places may be withdrawn if their course is over-subscribed

This is in response to last year’s A-level results where record numbers of applicants met their offers

Cambridge may withdraw offers if too many students meet their offer, under a new “over-subscription” clause introduced by the university, it has been revealed. 

For those not allocated a place, the university would try to find alternative colleges or courses or let them defer their place.

This follows last year’s A-level fiasco, which resulted in a record number of applicants meeting their offers.

The new clause enables Cambridge to withdraw places if there are “circumstances outside the reasonable control of the university and/or your college’ where “the number of applicants meeting the conditions of an offer of a place on your course exceeds the numbers of places available.”

This move is likely to worry A-level students who still do not know how they will be assessed this summer, with the move suggesting students may be left without a university place regardless of grades, or forced to defer.

A university spokesperson confirmed this clause is in response to events last summer where the government’s U-turn to teacher assessment meant a record number of A-level pupils achieved the highest grade.

This meant more offer-holders reached the entry requirements of the most competitive universities, including Cambridge.

Cambridge said at the time they had made around 4,500 offers for 3,450 places, expecting a number of students to under-perform.

Following high amounts of pressure both within the university and nationally, the university confirmed that the nearly 400 students who initially missed their offer last summer, but later met it following teacher assessment, would keep their place. They also confirmed at the time that “no student had been forced to defer entry.”

The clause enabling Cambridge to withdraw offers seeks to protect itself from a repeat of last year’s event, and the strain this would put on both the university’s college and supervision system.

A university spokesperson told the Tab “we would like to reassure students that we will do our utmost to ensure that all who meet the terms of their offer are admitted to the University this year.

“In the unlikely event that we do not have enough places for all those who have met their offers, we will seek to deal with the matter by identifying students who are happy to transfer Colleges or defer their places.”

Mary Curnock Cook, former chief executive of UCAS, spoke of the difficulties faced by universities this year, saying: “This year the challenge will be to make fair offers without opening the floodgates if every applicant achieves their offer conditions.”

Responding to Cambridge’s move to withdraw offers, a UCAS spokesperson said: “In the rare cases of over-subscription, we would expect universities to have an open and transparent conversation with students about their options, with the decisions ultimately lying with the student.”

A spokesperson for Cambridge University said through the clause to withdraw offers, “we are trying to ensure students are aware of their options should we be faced with similar pressures on places [as last year].

“This is about planning for the most exceptional circumstances and offering the student the best information to help inform their choices.” 

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