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Courses in clearing and effect on next year's offers

(12 Posts)
homebythesea Sat 15-Aug-15 16:40:41

Just looking at the Clearing supplement in today's paper and notice that for DS' subject there are several top RG Uni's advertising places (including some of those on his target list). This got me wondering (perhaps optimistically) whether the fact they have not got sufficient bums on seats this year means they might lower requirements for entry next year? Or am I being delusional?

Happy36 Sat 15-Aug-15 17:17:27

Hello homebythesea. It's common for RG universities to be insurance choices for students with Oxbridge offers or indeed offers from other RG universities, e.g. Imperial as a firm choice, Manchester as the insurance choice. The candidates who achieve their offer grades take up their firm offers, which leaves their insurance university with a vacancy.

Also, there is a smaller number of candidates who apply to these universities, then decide to study abroad for example in the USA or to stay in their home country if they are not living in the UK. Tuition fees differences between Scotland and England could be partially responsible, e.g. Edinburgh is the firm choice (no tuition fees for EU candidate), King's College is the insurance, student misses the firm offer but gets the grades for King's but then decides they'd rather stay in their home country than pay for English tuition fees and cost of living in London; this will only be a very small number of candidates, though.

Another reason for RG universities having vacancies is "adjustment" where a few candidates achieve grades higher than those required by their firm choice offer.

I doubt whether any universities will significantly lower their entry requirements next year, but we can only wait and see.

homebythesea Sat 15-Aug-15 17:33:52

happy36 I knew someone would come along who understands the system better than me! All those things make sense as to why there are vacancies

titchy Sat 15-Aug-15 17:52:03

The numbers cap is off and English institutions have had a £150m in year cut. We need fee income - that's why they're still offering!

Millymollymama Sat 15-Aug-15 17:52:59

There has been a massive expansion at some popular RG universities according to a report I was reading earlier in the week. Specifically mentioned were Bristol, Exeter, (it that RG now?) UCL, Newcastle and KCL. Warwick too. Bristol has expanded with 40% more undergraduates since 2011 and the others were all between 30-39% for the same period. This leaves some RG universities as definitely recruiting universities because there are not enough AAB students, or better, to go round all the RG universities.

There has also been expansion at a lot of the less over subscribed universities too and some RG universities are now offering inducements to better qualified students. I think the less popular RG universities may well have to look at what grades they ask for because it looks like the premier division of universities is taking the cream and then a lot more cream because they have expanded student numbers. I noticed Bristol has very few courses in clearing. I suspect that is possibly the same at Durham, Warwick, Exeter and UCL. The story in the press seems to be that students are still wanting to go to a few "top" universities which are vastly over subscribed and the others are finding it more difficult to recruit the high calibre students. The numbers not getting to Oxbridge are taking up insurance offers but these are mostly taken before clearing - so I am not sure these are relevant to courses in clearing. Many of these students may well have places at Durham, Bristol, Exeter etc as insurance anyway. I also think subject makes a difference as to whether a course is in clearing or not. Vets, medics etc probably impossible anywhere.

MarvinKMooney Sat 15-Aug-15 18:08:57

I work in an admissions office in a RG university.

It's just as happy says. We have lots of unknowns at this time of year and while we have a good idea of actual against target, we could really do with a crystal ball!

There are lots of variable factors: number of insurance offer holders who take up their place (or not), applicants who have met their firm choice offer but would prefer to go to their insurance choice anyway, applicants that wish defer, deferrals who wish to come now, applicants who withdraw entirely.... The list goes on!

Universities can also choose whether to be in clearing for home/eu or overseas, or both. While a university might be present on the clearing lists, there may only be a handful of places. We only had to find 4 students in clearing this year.

So, in short, the answer is no: if a university is in clearing, it doesn't mean it'll lower its grades next year. If anything, we need to at least maintain grades required as they reflect the calibre of the student, and this has a direct effect on our position in the dreaded league tables ....

spinoa Sat 15-Aug-15 19:30:57

To add to what the others said: many popular, highly ranked courses are asked to go into clearing by university management, to pick up extra students to generate fee income.

For example, suppose a course has firmed 150 students with A*AA/AAA but teaching wise could easily accommodate an extra 10 students. Meanwhile other departments in the same university are struggling to fill their places at good grades, despite being highly respected, because their subjects are relatively undersubscribed at A level (MFL, physics, chemistry etc). Rather than have the latter take lots of weak students in clearing, the university management might well ask the first course to take an extra 10 AAB+ students. But this course didn't have to go to clearing to fill places; they went to clearing to take extra students, to ensure the university generated enough fee income. And the average grades coming in will still be AAA+, so no reason to drop offers the next year.

Of course a student could watch the pattern of clearing offers and (correctly) deduce that there will be plenty of choice in clearing for MFL, physics, chemistry, maths etc. The student could then think that there is no need to get the grades required by an offer, they may well be accepted with dropped grades for such subjects. But this would a dangerous strategy as every year is a bit different.

homebythesea Sat 15-Aug-15 21:29:48

Thanks all- it does mean I suppose that the person next to you in the lecture hall may have got lower grades having got there through clearing but perhaps it was ever thus?

Happy36 Sat 15-Aug-15 21:37:50

homebythesea Indeed, I think it has more or less always been like that, at least in recent history.

Happy36 Sat 15-Aug-15 21:38:15

Sorry, that made no sense. I mean, this year is not radically different to previous ones.

Charis1 Mon 17-Aug-15 19:34:11

They could have lower grades, but shine in other aspects of their application.

spinoa Mon 17-Aug-15 20:01:38

If they did get there through clearing with lower grades than the average for the course then they are arguably at a disadvantage, because the course will be targeted towards those with higher grades and there is a risk that they won't be able to keep up.

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