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Top universities "ignoring A levels" in race for top students : The Telegraph online

(40 Posts)
ryansbeat Sun 28-Dec-14 19:51:12

Apologies, I don't know how to link but there is an article on this in the Telegraph....just wondering if there are lots of unconditional offers being offered and if they are being accepted?

TalkinPeace Sun 28-Dec-14 20:02:56

You mean this story?
same old same old

unconditional offers have always existed :
three girls at my school got them , one from Oxford, one from Cambridge and one from LSE (I saw them, they said E, E : I was dead jealous)

the point is that if you arse about and flunk, there will be - somewhere in the small print - a get out for the Uni.

ryansbeat Sun 28-Dec-14 21:21:10

Just surprised at the number being offered....I'm aware of at least two people getting unconditional offers from Birmingham. Is this done in an attempt to boost their rating?

TalkinPeace Sun 28-Dec-14 21:29:11

depends on the course and the student
its nothing new

ryansbeat Sun 28-Dec-14 21:32:41

Sure, I realise it's not a new concept but they're definitely on the increase and it does seem that some univerisities in particular are offering them...just wondering why.

TalkinPeace Sun 28-Dec-14 21:35:15

but they're definitely on the increase

ryansbeat Sun 28-Dec-14 21:40:23

Sorry, I'll rephrase that....they're definitely on the increase in the school my DDs at.....and if that article is anything to go by, they're on the increase elsewhere.

TalkinPeace Sun 28-Dec-14 21:47:13

Re read the article : there are no concrete numbers about this year in there at all
and precious few about the outcomes of such offers in the last 30 years

Molio Mon 29-Dec-14 00:08:02

Yes it is a new departure in the past few years though years ago there were the standard EE offers from Oxford and Cambridge and a tiny number have been given out at Cambridge throughout the intervening years. That was a different thing altogether. Those universities had an entrance test and interviewed and were clear that the students they offered places to had sufficient potential to be offered a place without further hurdles needing to be overcome. The reason that universities are trying all sorts of different tactics to secure the best students/ make themselves more attractive to the best students is that it's increasingly become a buyer's market since the fee hike in 2012. Birmingham was in the first wave to offer unconditional places to those who firm but admissions policies are constantly changing to meet the challenge of supply and demand.

Pico2 Mon 29-Dec-14 00:12:13

I think there is a race to be the insurance offer for some candidates. That was my experience, though quite a while ago.

Molio Mon 29-Dec-14 00:14:43

I haven't yet read the article TP (I'm about to!) but of course there won't be any numbers for this year since the deadline for applications hasn't even passed yet. UCAS could give the data for offers made so far if it chose to do so but it's probably more meaningful to do so once the whole cycle is at an end. I'm not sure you understand the way things have been moving over the past few years - you seem to be conflating the policy driving the old EE/ post interview offers with the new unconditional offers, which may be missing the point.

caroldecker Mon 29-Dec-14 00:36:16

when there were exams Oxbridge always offered 2e's as that was the minimum required to get funding. With the re-introduction of university tests, they are back. The increase will be related to an increase in university tests.

uilen Mon 29-Dec-14 09:16:05

The increase is not related to an increase in university tests: most universities which have started making unconditional offers (e.g. Birmingham) don't use tests in the subjects in which they make unconditional offers.

The increase follows from the removal of number caps and the change in fees - universities feel under more pressure to attract good students. In some subjects many "top" universities have expanded their student numbers which adds to the competition.

While unconditional offers are much more common now only a fraction of courses/universities are making such offers. Other universities/courses have different tactics - offers are not made conditional but dropped grades are accepted more often than they were before 2012; scholarships are given to those who exceed offers etc etc. And in my opinion the very top courses, i.e the selective ones, have not changed their policies since 2012 and are not making unconditional offers. It is the recruiting courses - those which make offers to all those who look likely to get the grades - who are making unconditional offers to attractive candidates.

TheEnduringMoment Mon 29-Dec-14 09:29:18

I got a 2E offer, sight unseen, almost 30 years ago from Nottingham - clearly of the type that the PP was referring to, as a crude bribe to make them my insurance offer. So it wasn't completely unheard of back then, but it was very rare because the (slightly selective) school's FE advisor said he'd never seen one before and he'd been doing that job for ages.

I found it a bit off-putting; it's like a declaration that they hope you screw up your exams so much that you can't go anywhere you really want and have to settle for them.

Mrscog Mon 29-Dec-14 09:41:03

Yes - I was coming on to say what uilen said. The removal of the student number control, combined with a dip in the population of 18 year olds for the next 5 years means that it will be much less challenging to get into university for a few years.

There is even some speculation within HE that the market may not be able to sustain all universities and 1-2 may fail all together.

outtolunchagain Mon 29-Dec-14 10:19:58

I know a couple of teenagers who have received un conditionals , I , certainly in one case the unconditional offer wasn't really so because he had to accept it and make first choice by a certain date.He has turned down in favour if a higher offer from a more prestigious university .

DulcetMoans Mon 29-Dec-14 10:25:02

I believe part of Birminghams unconditional offers were based on the candidate accepting them as the firm choice. That's certainly a tactic they tried last year which was to make an offer unconditional on the condition they are the firm choice if that makes sense!

It got a mixed response.

ryansbeat Mon 29-Dec-14 10:39:57

Thanks for all the replies...I think what Uilen said sums it up well. It just seems to me that Birmingham are very much on a recruitment drive. And yes, outtolunchagain, they have been asked to make it a first choice by a certain date.

uilen Mon 29-Dec-14 10:46:17

Most universities are on a recruitment drive. Those who aren't currently offering unconditionally (which btw is almost always for firm choices only, separate offers are given for insurance choices) have been watching Birmingham with interest. However it's not clear that the unconditional offer strategy particularly pays off.

nutgrabber Mon 29-Dec-14 14:35:28

My understanding is that you still have to be predicted to get at least 3 A's by your school\college before being offered an unconditional place at Birmingham. They still expect most such students to achieve this result but consider that it takes a lot of pressure off when it comes to exam time (perhaps too much?) and enables them to cream off some of the best students by doing so in this newer competitive erase.

JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 29-Dec-14 16:59:41

when there were exams Oxbridge always offered 2e's as that was the minimum required to get funding. With the re-introduction of university tests, they are back.

Carol, the tests didn't go anywhere. Some colleges/subjects have always required students sit a test as part of the interview process.

RabbitOfNegativeEuphoria Mon 29-Dec-14 18:04:02

40 years ago I got 3 EE offers. The 2 non oxbridge ones came in before the results of my entrance exam were known (one before I actually sat the entrance exam). They were both down ticket destinations, and we're probably made in the hope I'd mess up the entrance exam and then either not like my other 2 up ticket choices or suffer a massive crisis of confidence. Conservatoires and drama schools have been offering EE and then unconditional offers (after the funding requirement changed) for at least that long. The Birmingham/UEA unconditional offers if you firm them are a much newer thing and are not only made to Oxbridge applicants. They do seem to be triggered by predictions and competition. As a parent I hope that DD1 will be more tempted by offers for reduced fees (which are also flying round this year) than reduced grades, should she be lucky enough to get such offers. Her likely down ticket choice has made both types of offer (sometimes in combination) this year, we know. Also, some of her likely up ticket choices. I hope - but don't have much confidence really - that she will be one of those for whom it's becoming a buyer's market.

sablepoot Mon 29-Dec-14 18:37:29

30+ years ago I had several EE offers (plus one EEE offer from York that also specified which subjects the Es should be in which I found especially puzzling). I think back then they were used to try and lure you in with warm fuzzy feelings. However, although it was only Oxbridge that set their own entrance tests, everywhere interviewed, so they were at least able to form an opinion of your abilities aside from the school references.

Kez100 Mon 29-Dec-14 22:01:45

My DD had an unconditional last year which she accepted as it was her first choice. They covered all bases by giving her a scholarship worth £3k in year one if she still managed AAB+. She did have a 40 minute interview and portfolio review too - so I think it's a less risky offer for courses like hers, after the UCAS form and this process is complete.

Poisonwoodlife Tue 30-Dec-14 02:07:08

DD had one of the Birmingham unconditional offers last year, and after the initial offers two other universities wrote with financial inducements, and a promise grades would be relaxed if she didn't make the 3A offer, even if she ended up with less than ABB. They weren't her first choices but it did mean she definitely went to the Birmingham offers day, and we discovered for ourselves, as others had told us, that once there you come to appreciate what they have to offer. In the event her first choice gave her an AAB offer, and she exceeded it, but she made Birmingham her insurance in the hope that if it all went belly up they might be willing to relax the required grades in spite of refusing point blank to actually ask them at the offers day

A few at her school did accept the unconditional offers, and certainly in Press coverage last year Birmingham were reporting that it did significantly increase the percentage who made them their firm offer, I think it was from a quarter to a third...... So in marketing terms, in a competitive market it is clearly a successful strategy, rather than an indicator of desperation. They all achieved their predicted grades in any case.

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