Uni Places Left Unfilled
Universities across the country have, as expected, struggled to fill the places available on courses around the country following the decision last year to increase tuition fees to up to […]
Universities across the country have, as expected, struggled to fill the places available on courses around the country following the decision last year to increase tuition fees to up to £9,000 a year. While this is not particularly surprising, what was unexpected was the gulf of places available at Russell Group universities. According to a report by the BBC, six of its 24 members still had spaces available.
While core places have been reduced, universities have been able to take on as many students with top grades (AAB or higher) as they can accommodate. However, fewer students this year received those top grades. The number attaining AAB or above were lower than expected – some 80,000 rather than 85,000. This summer’s results show 26.6% of A-level entries achieved the top two grades – down from 27% last year.
Because of a change to university regulatory rules, if universities failed to recruit enough high calibre students, they risked losing funding, but if they recruited too many students with grades below the AAB cut off point, they risked substantial fines. This has led to a bizarre situation where students who wanted to attend leading universities and had the right qualifications, have not been able too, even though the universities wanted to accept them.
To make matters worse, Leeds is among a number of elite universities accused of ‘social engineering’ by manipulating the ‘contextual data’ of candidates to offer places to students from lower backgrounds who do not meet the required grades for entry. Investigations carried out by the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, indicate that a number of Russell Group universities including Leeds have been using points systems which significantly improve, and even upgrade the chances of children from poorer background gaining places. The Telegraph claimed that Leeds medicine applicants who were from poorer backgrounds would be allocated additional points, so that three B’s would effectively become 3 A*s.
A spokesperson for the University said
“As we predicted last term, our home undergraduate intake [this year] is 500 below plan. Most of our peers seem to have experienced comparable falls, which reflect in particular a significant reduction in the number of AAB+ students in the system nationally.”
However, the university declined to comment on whether this implied that this years intake was below the calibre of previous years, and if this has meant any reduction in funding due to the inability of the university to meet the strict criteria set out by the new regulations.
Leeds Met also declined to make any further comments on the subject of clearing spaces.