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RG universities not sticking to the 'infomed choices' subjects

(26 Posts)
creamteas Fri 27-Sep-13 09:48:29

Interesting new piece of research that shows that many RG universities have a much wider list of acceptable A levels that in their informed choices booklet.

Some of us have always known this, but good to have some more evidence!

AMumInScotland Fri 27-Sep-13 10:08:17

It's an interesting article, but I do wish she had been able to get the "Combination effect" information, as I think that would be the crunch factor for me.

eg if those getting accepted for law tended to have two facilitating subjects plus drama/music/critical thinking then that means one thing - that facilitating subjects are still important, but two is enough.

Whereas if they tended to have only one facilitating subject and two others, then you may as well throw out their leaflet and pick what you like.

The fact that a facilitating subject like MFL doesn't particularly help you get in to an MEng course, and physics doesn't help if you want to study law, is similar - did those applicants have MFL, History, and English Literature, for instance? Facilitating subjects won't get you past the need to show an interest/aptitude for something at least vaguely relevant to the degree subject.

But you're right it shows that people should not read it as gospel and assume that's all there is to it.

SlowlorisIncognito Fri 27-Sep-13 14:33:00

I always thought the booklet was for general info, not to be treated like the gospel.

Universities are allowed to give out whatever offer they like, to whoever they like, although they do usually follow the guidelines published on their websites/in their prospectus. The only real hard and fast rules across the majority of universities appear to be: if you want to do a science subject you need at least two science A levels (this usually includes maths, geography and psychology) and if you want to do a subject offered by the vast majority of schools at A level (e.g. history/geography), you need to have taken it at A level.

78bunion Fri 27-Sep-13 15:33:03

Does it not just show that clever children at private schools often do a fourth A level in a softer perhaps subject like drama or critical thinking but they still have their 3 better subject A levels?

creamteas Fri 27-Sep-13 17:18:02

Does it not just show that clever children at private schools often do a fourth A level in a softer perhaps subject like drama or critical thinking but they still have their 3 better subject A levels?

Not in my experience as an admissions tutor!

IDK Fri 27-Sep-13 21:49:10

I'm not sure that "many RG universities have a much wider list of acceptable A levels that in their informed choices booklet" is news.
When looking at Universities for DS we drilled down to specific detail i.e. we looked at course-specific requirements at named Universities. DS is doing a traditional subject at an RG: it was perfectly clear on UCAS that they made a positive request for an A Level in said subject (on the facilitating list), and a negative request regarding CT and Gen Studies but beyond that it was not specified. DS did two facilitating subjects and a lesser-thought-of and got an offer from that combination. The L-T-O turned out to be a smart move - he got his best result in it and it may have smoothed the way when he dropped a grade in one of the harder subjects.
When Universities are asking for straight-As, a softy subject can be an easy box to tick.wink

creamteas Sat 28-Sep-13 10:30:02

It wasn't news to me, but seems to be taken as gospel on most of the what A level choices threads.

LibraryBook Thu 03-Oct-13 10:17:06

At best this research is misleading. I hope students won't read it and think they can opt for any old A level subjects. That would be a huge step backwards for children who don't have support with negotiating the system.

General studies could be prevalent in offers not because of its usefulness but because it's there. At many schools everyone has to sit General Studies. But just because it's present on your A level profile, it doesn't mean you haven't also sat maths, physics, and chemistry as well.

There's nothing wrong with a non-core A level as a third subject, or a fourth, or fifth ... but good luck with trying to get into Bristol (or any other decent university) without at least 2 core A levels.


LibraryBook Thu 03-Oct-13 10:25:45

This if from the Russell Group website. Which explains the situation very clearly.

"Do I need to study three facilitating subjects at A-level to go to a Russell Group university?

It depends. If you know what you want to study then check the entrance requirements. Some courses - such as medicine or dentistry - do require three specific subjects. But for most other courses you won’t necessarily need to have studied three facilitating subjects at A-level. Some courses require one or two facilitating subjects, whilst for other courses there are no specific subject requirements. Some institutions publish a list of preferred A-level subjects which are acceptable for general admission, as well as specific requirements for individual courses. If you don’t know what you want to study then it’s a really good rule of thumb that taking two facilitating subjects will keep a wide range of degree courses and career options open to you."

Moominmammacat Mon 21-Oct-13 15:43:28

Do you know you don't need music A level to study music at uni?

circular Mon 21-Oct-13 18:58:29

Momminmammacat Seen in some entry requirements that Grade 8 theory would do instead, but suspect this is because not all 6th forms offer music.
Having said that, DD1 didn't want to take that chance and changed schools.
What we have found is a bit vague, is whether the RG Unis expect other facilitating subjects to study music. Or whether some subjects are preferred above others.

LittleSiouxieSue Tue 22-Oct-13 00:45:59

Circular. I have had a brief look at Bristol's music dept which is a good place to start! They want music A level and history of music is compulsory in the first year so I would imagine history, as an essay subject, would be good. I would think you could then look at a language as they offer music and French, German or Italian. This would keep options open. I would look at the fourth AS in something like Drama or another essay subject or just something DD enjoys. They are vague about actual subjects but if you look at the contents of the course there are clues and it stresses it is an academic course. So do academic subjects.

Moominmammacat Tue 22-Oct-13 07:35:21

My ds got offer from Bristol without a level music.

EuroStar2013 Tue 22-Oct-13 10:53:14

RE: Music, I would imagine almost any decent A level is a help and whatever you do you are likely to have a gap somewhere as first year courses tend to cover everything (e.g. history is fine for learning to evaluate sources but less so for thinking creatively - maybe English... see what I mean?). On DC's course (not Bristol but another 'good' place), A levels varied from maths/physics through all foreign languages to all essay subjects with Music A as the common thread (but ask the university if you don't have that - some say they prefer Grade 8 theory anyway - moominmama already commented on that). Emailing admissions was the best help. That said, DD picked a less than intuitive set of A levels but she got offers and is doing OK.

Back to the OP, glad 'we' didn't know about facilitating subjects.

Do we tie ourselves in knots trying to pick the optimal set of A levels?

EuroStar2013 Tue 22-Oct-13 11:01:28

Ah - music A level - cross posting moominmama!

Moominmammacat Tue 22-Oct-13 12:26:41

Agree with Eurostar. Better to ask Admissions than second guess. More interestingly, anyone think music at uni is becoming the preserve of the privately educated?

rightsaidfrederick Tue 22-Oct-13 12:49:48

I'm not sure about the privately educated, but the middle class, perhaps. It requires significant money to put your offspring through years of music lessons, and not everyone can afford it.

On the subject of a music degree, some universities do require A Level music in addition to Grade VIII. So, it's worth checking out the full range of unis on offer and trying to make your A Level combination acceptable to as many as possible, so that you don't close off opportunities later on.

Anyway, I'd expect that if someone wanted to do a music degree, then they'd also want to do music A Level.

circular Tue 22-Oct-13 19:34:07

LittleSiouxieSue Yes, that sounds about right for a more academic type course with lots of essay modules.
Not so much the second guessing when choosing A levels, as better to choose what they are best at and enjoy most when requirements don't specify.
More if they are taking certain subjects (in DDs case, nothing essay writing, but all facilitating subjects) what courses will look at her most favourably.

circular Tue 22-Oct-13 19:46:37

Never sure what exactly is meant by 'middle class' these days, but middle income certainly the worse off for music education.
Free or heavily subsidised lessons available in certain less privileged areas.

Music and Dance scholarships available if lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to apply, and they are means tested on a sliding scale too.

Bursaries for Uni only available if parents below certain income level, which is not that high if in or near London. Making studying in London unaffordable for middle income families unless student commutes. Which could be less than ideal for music study with late rehearsals/performances.

hellsbells99 Thu 24-Oct-13 08:39:13

All the comments about music are interesting. My DD was unable to take it at A level as none of the local state schools are doing it due to lack of demand. The local private schools do offer it but beyond our means.

Moominmammacat Thu 24-Oct-13 18:26:48

My DS did Grade 8 theory out of school and most of the best unis (not Oxford) seem to accept it.

circular Thu 24-Oct-13 19:13:33

Hellsbells That explains why the yr12 group at my DDs state comp has 10 external students, all from different schools. And only 2 or 3 internal students.

PiratePanda Tue 05-Nov-13 14:25:24

Moominmama, most music depts say grade 8 theory is an acceptable alternative to A Level music. I don't know what your point is. As for "becoming" the preserve of the privately educated, it has long been the most socially exclusive degree course outside medicine.

circular Tue 05-Nov-13 17:52:36

Piratepanda By the most 'socially exclusive' do you mean state school educated stand less chance of getting into a good Uni for music?
Or that students from lower income families are less likely to take the risk of a music degree?

PiratePanda Tue 05-Nov-13 19:25:38

Students from lower socio-economic backgrounds get weeded out before they even make their GCSE choices (or more precisely weed themselves out). You have to have parents who care about classical music enough to pay for private lessons for starters, and to take GCSE music and then A Level you need to read staff notation, which again means at least being able to tolerate classical music. It makes our widening participation efforts very difficult.

The stats are all there if you care to look for them. Popular music courses are a bit less class marked but not much.

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