Birmingham uni - A levels not required

(57 Posts)
creamteas Fri 08-Mar-13 19:33:04

Birmingham university has started to make unconditional offers to some students on the basis of their AS levels and A2 predictions. This means that if a student didn't actually bother to take their A2s, they would get a place ahead of someone who just slipped a grade! The reports are that this is only for some subjects and the students have to have As at As and be predicted A*AA.

My uni are shock and I have real concerns about the differential impact, given that some schools are more likely to predict high grades that others.

I also think it is a bit strange that an uni that has pretend elite status would do this especially as it in subjects which do not have any other way of gauging the suitability of applicants such as interviews.

I know they really struggled to fill their places last year, and I'm guessing they wouldn't have done this if their applications for 2013 entry were strong.

ILikeBirds Sat 09-Mar-13 13:14:00

I thought this sort of thing has always gone on. I know people who had two E offers to go to Oxbridge (and this was from a state school background).

In the current system can you keep an unconditional offer in reserve?

Universities used to be able to see what other places you'd applied to, I know the university I went to used to give higher offers to those who'd applied to Oxbridge on the basis that they didn't want their offer to be used as a reserve. If you can't keep an unconditional offer in reserve then maybe this is something similar?

NewFerry Sat 09-Mar-13 13:14:17

Creamteas - thanks, thats very interesting ref the students applying who already have their results and confirmed what I had thought was probably the case.

I think I read that unis could take (practically) unlimited numbers of AAB students last year, is that the case this year, or has this changed?

Also, I too would be interested to know whether the Jan A2 results are down, given DS did very badly in one of his modules scoring a C when he had been scoring 90%+ on mock papers

MariscallRoad Sat 09-Mar-13 13:24:07

Cream Birminham requires 2 sorts of entry requirements. The general ones which include 3 A Levels - or other kinds - so one must do them; and also the ’specific entry requirements’ for the chosen course and I understand the issue is there. However, a student who does not perform well in A2 but already has an unconditional they would struggle from the start of the academic course; and I ve known some universities to offer good support to those students with extra tuition so as to avoid dropping off.. So if one has difficulty they expect to sort it. What we parents find most unfair is 9K, fee which rose to that level at once.

Birmingham is in the QS 100 top list and has v good rep.

creamteas Sat 09-Mar-13 13:27:30

Ilike yes some unis used to make unconditional offers but usually only when a separate entrance exam and/or interview had taken place. As far as I know, no, you only get an unconditional offer if Birmingham is your firm. And no, at this point in time, universities can't see where else applicants have applied to.

New last year AAB+ students were deemed to be outside of student number controls and this is changing to ABB+.

Last year went badly wrong for many of the top unis because the number of students getting AAB+ dropped and it was not possible to fill the places with students of lower grades as they then would be fined by the government (HEFCE worked out the number of AAB+ students expected and deducted these places from universities, but had obviously not talked to Gove/Ofqual who are on a mission to reduce grades).

webwiz Sat 09-Mar-13 13:28:12

There is a thread on the studentroom about this, the students seem a bit wary of accepting the offers though:
www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2274119

Also there's a telegraph article
www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9913795/Top-university-awards-places-irrespective-of-final-A-levels.html

For Maths you need to be predicted A* A* A* which a lot of schools would be reluctant to predict. Also if you were predicted that Birmingham wouldn't be the natural choice of university to study at. For the unconditional offer you need to put Birmingham as your first choice so they may pick up some risk averse students who would normally have had them as a back up choice as best.

ILikeBirds Sat 09-Mar-13 13:30:05

Do they not interview either then? I had interviews for all the universities I'd applied to

MariscallRoad Sat 09-Mar-13 13:31:41

NewFerry, An exam performance involves for some students stress and might produce different results than those of a mock test where the student might feel differently. Not all students though are the same or feel the same.

webwiz Sat 09-Mar-13 13:32:29

Quite rare to be interviewed these days ILikeBirds - just for some courses eg medicine

creamteas Sat 09-Mar-13 13:36:55

Birmingham is in the QS 100 top list and has v good rep

Like all unis, the reputation overall doesn't mean anything about the quality of teaching in different subject areas. It certainly does not have a good reputation in my subject area. It is also currently in the middle of an dispute over redundancies, with potential strike action, so is not necessarily a good place to either work or study at the minute.

FellNel Sat 09-Mar-13 13:37:44

I was just about to say exactly what lily said in the very first response!

It sounds to me, if they're asking AA*A predictions, as if they are trying to cream off excellent students before they're snapped up elsewhere?

FWIW, in my subject Birmingham has a great reputation - it does vary a lot, I'm sure. I can imagine this might be a poor idea for students studying something Birmingham isn't great for, but might be good for, say, someone who is tossing up between Oxbridge with a tough offer, or early certainty here.

FellNel Sat 09-Mar-13 13:43:37

I know what creamteas means about Birmingham. My son got an offer from them for BBB, but all his other offers were for AAB. He choose a two non RG universities over Bham in the end, because they both had a better reputation by far, for his specific degree.

MariscallRoad Sat 09-Mar-13 13:46:48

I also agree that some students get they As easily and some others work strenuously to get Bs. And perhaps the grades of some students does not tell much about their academic ability/aptitude for a course and neither tells us the difficulties they encountered in school or learning or other... Perhaps The grading system is not meant to grade ability allways. Some universities know this and use a load of their own testing for selection.

I have a DS in y12 and was under the impression that uni offers were based on AS results - have I got this wrong?
Wasn't there a fuss recently when Michael Gove was threatening to abolish AS levels altogether and return to A levels taken at the end of year 13? If I recall the universities were against the idea because they believed that AS results were a more accurate measure of ability than teacher prediction?

creamteas Sat 09-Mar-13 14:34:57

secret Uni offers are made looking at grades achieved so far, but have usually always been on the basis of A2 results. In other words your offer is conditional on you achieving certain grades in your A2s.

In this case, Birmingham's offers are unconditional, that is if they are accepted, they can attend regardless of their A2 results.

Thanks creamteas.

MariscallRoad Sat 09-Mar-13 15:31:41

Bhm says 'Pupils taking up maths places must be predicted to score three elite A* grades'. Now, this is a hard condition to achieve.
Not all elite universities teach every course perfect in all degrees. A lot of things might make a difference in the decisions of parents and students where to study -not just the status. for example B advertise v well themselves how well they support students: they offer a mentor all to all students not just those with specific needs. That makes a difference in the study.

titchy Sat 09-Mar-13 15:39:24

The proposal to not have AS as an interim qual for a levels is for current year 9 cohort so you should be ok secret!

Creamteas - Hefce intend to redistribute the number control for 14/15 based on 13/14 intake numbers so maybe that's why Bham is takin this approach? Also interesting is the fee charged by one of the new unis Bedford maybe? Half price if you pay up front!

There are crappy departments in all universities.

webwiz Sat 09-Mar-13 15:46:14

For Maths any students with those sorts of predictions would be looking at the universities with the best reputations for Maths and Birmingham certainly is not considered as on a par with Oxbridge/Imperial/Warwick/Durham/Bath. The only way that Birmingham would have applications of that calibre is if they are a 4th or 5th choice university or if someone doesn't have further maths which will make it difficult to get into one the top universities listed.

I think one university acting in a unilateral way like this distorts things a bit and means that students may make a decision that isn't the best for them in the long run.

fussychica Sat 09-Mar-13 16:35:20

When DS applied to B'ham 2 years ago- the last year of low fees - he was given an low offer well below the standard entry requirement without interview, although at the time they stated they always interviewed for his subject area. It didn't make him change his first choice and he rejected the place. They seemed miffed and unlike the other Uni's he rejected they followed it up, which was suprising.

Similarly, in this case it appears a number of the students who have received these offers are very wary of accepting because they a fairly sure they can meet their offers from what were/are their preferred Uni.

I don't think B'ham are sending the right signals to the students or about their establishment but they obviously feel there is a need to do this to try to secure numbers. Looking at the subjects concerned and the student room comments I don't think other uni's have much to be concerned about.

MariscallRoad Sat 09-Mar-13 22:10:06

web it is hard to get a place in the colleges you mentioned even with 3xA*s. A grades are not sufficient. Some universities require their own maths/physics test to be taken followed by test at interview. About half to 3/4 in certain cases might pass the test but fewer of those are likely pass the interview. There re people with with A*s who did not apply to a university bec of the cost. But is poss that there are those who would put the place as a top choice.

webwiz Sat 09-Mar-13 23:44:32

But if you are predicted 3A* you should be targeting the top universities for your subject. Maths has high entry requirements and can include extra exams like STEP but it isn't so hard to get into that a good mathematician will end up be rejected by lots of courses (unless of course you only apply to the absolute top unis).

DD2 didn't actually consider Birmingham so I don't know anything about Maths there but if you were a top student it would be an insurance type choice rather than a firm.

I'm sure there'll be a rush of applications to Birmingham next year with people hoping for the unconditional offers rather than receiving them unexpectedly like they have this year.

I can imagine if you were someone who gets very nervous about exams, you might find Birmingham's offer attractive enough not to want to go to the slightly better places, though. People are different in terms of how they feel - every year some students will decide to go for a course they're technically over-qualified for, or will decide not to apply for places they might be able to get into, because they don't want to go. Maybe that's what Birmingham is hoping for?

MariscallRoad Sun 10-Mar-13 10:27:32

Web I do not disagree with you that people with 'predicted' A*s should look at Oxbridge and the colleges you mention. Success rate though, at Ox for example, is about 18 pc. The rest should look for a safe alternative.

It appears Bhm’s hopes to attract are realistic: a % of A* predictions and offers in maths were not achieved in one uni mentioned; so these applicants need to have another place to go. Many candidates become aware that it is very hard to study in some of these unis. Their exams are v stressful and system is different from the rest . Some students feel this is not where they would want to study even if they have the grades. Still they can study well elsewhere and get a good degree. Finally, I agree some people can get nervous of exams. Stress affects performance in some.

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