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early entry to uni - in practice

23 replies

piisnot3 · 22/08/2022 10:41

interested in hearing first hand accounts of early entry to university, either:
a) age 16-17
b) before age 16
In particular:

  1. Does your institution have policies and procedures in place for under 18s
  2. Are these "just for show", to satisfy the 2010 equality act, or do they fairly reflect the way under 18 applicants are treated
  3. Are you aware of cases where early entry at 16 or younger has occurred in the last 5 years and how has it been handled. i.e. have any additional restrictions been imposed by the institution (e.g. chaperoning, enhanced supervision for lab-work).
    Just to reiterate, I am asking for first-hand information about current policy and practice, i.e. what is, or has recently, been done.
OP posts:
theferry · 22/08/2022 16:34

It’s always been possible in Scotland for students to start university at 17, but it is now more unusual. More students are staying on at school to do their advanced higher, which means them entering uni at 18 yr old. We no nothing different, other than having background checks (can’t remember the name of it).

academicyeah · 28/08/2022 19:42

We have an U18 residence and theoretically they should all be placed there so alcohol free etc. I'm not sure how it works in practice.
I have been allocated two very young first years to my tutor group, one was still 16 until late January. No heads up to me, no PVG or any other checks on me or anyone else who was coming into contact on the academic side of things.

Bringonsummer19 · 28/08/2022 19:48

My friend was 17. University is more than academics so unless there really is a burning platform I wouldn’t

bloodyunicorns · 28/08/2022 19:57

In the UK, how would you be able to sit all the necessary exams and go to uni before the age of 16?!

Firty · 28/08/2022 20:53

I do know someone who went at 15. It was all very strange. Wasn’t allowed to buy alcohol, the rest of the town was drunk all the time, he was treated like a little kid / novelty, didn’t fit in, no age 18 girls fancied him obviously. I think he had an ok time but he’d have been much better off having a couple of years out and then going at 17 in Scotland or 18 in UK.

Firty · 28/08/2022 20:54

bloodyunicorns · 28/08/2022 19:57

In the UK, how would you be able to sit all the necessary exams and go to uni before the age of 16?!

Your parents put you in for the exams early. Some kids in UK pass maths gcse at age 10.

Onceuponatimethen · 28/08/2022 20:56

No idea how it’s done now. My brother had a 16 and quite a few 17 year olds with him at uni in the 90s - Scotland

nightwakingmoon · 28/08/2022 21:14

We do have policies in place and have the odd one or two every so often (Oxbridge), but not in my subject, so I don’t know the exact ins and outs. I would really not recommend it though, if you can avoid it — there’s a strong cohort bonding at university with other students at the same time of life (relationships, parties etc.) and it’s already hard for most students not to feel like outsiders in some way that I wouldn’t deliberately send a kid who was already out of step with their peers. In a humanities subject students do need a fair bit of emotional and social, as well as intellectual, maturity as well (probably why we don’t get early applicants). It really only happens in computing and maths tbh so if your child is a mathematician, it’s not unheard of but I’m not sure it confers any additional advantage to go early — but you would need to seek advice direct from course tutors in that specific subject.

I have to say that if I was a parent in this situation I would suggest at least one gap year with a job, some travel, another couple of A-levels just for enjoyment, or some independent reading etc. instead — just a bit of extra time to mature a little and have a bit of a break from academic work. I’ve seen students (and grad students) burn out all too often if they don’t allow some time in their careers to decompress and step back from academic work. A year off before university is no bad thing and may be much much better in the medium to long term for wellbeing, than going too early.

stemthetide · 30/08/2022 12:05

17 in Scotland or 18 in UK.

I take it you meant 17 in Scotland or 18 in the rest of the UK? Unless you know something the rest of don't.

NameChange3333 · 30/08/2022 13:00

I’ve just NC’ed as this is obviously very outing, but I was offered a place at a London university at age 15 (late 2015), started at age 16 (September 2016).

I am not British - back home I skipped a couple of grades in school. This is just as unusual over there too, it took a lot of fighting and psych Ed, IQ, developmental and you-name-it assessments before it was approved by the Ministry for Education, as the law doesn’t contemplate this option in my region. Just before anyone jumps on my parents, they were not the driving force and never pushed me to do anything, I was simply so incredibly bored and out of my mind, it was the only solution school + ed authorities could come up with. After two skips, I was still as bored and out of my mind as I had been on day 1 of primary. I was / am emotionally very mature for my age so there was never an issue of fitting in socially (not more than your average teenager anyway). Just to give some background for the following, and why my uni experience was completely normal.

I went to a small vocational university (just over 1000 students) and had known my principal study tutor for a number of years before I moved to London. Think music / dance / drama type of degree and courses, hence me knowing this person beforehand.

The university itself did not place any additional restrictions. The only thing that was different was my wristband during Freshers’ - one that obviously didn’t allow me in to events where alcohol was freely included, as I was 16. At events where alcohol could only be purchased, I was allowed to go. No idea whether anybody would’ve checked my ID had I tried to buy a beer, I didn’t drink at all then. This was all done through the SU.

I was never offered / never felt I needed any extra support from student services. I settled in well and it helped that classes were very small, and the aforementioned tutor kept a closer eye on me in general.

I had obviously finished the equivalent of A-levels that summer, so submitted that as proof of previous studies. EU country so very easy (back then) to cross check.

I was able to apply for Student Finance (fees - again, before Brexit) in my own name. Just provided usual parental income info any 18yo UK kid does.

I was able to apply to halls of residence and received a place. I opted for a studio but I would’ve been allowed to flat-share as well.

A year later, at 17, I moved into a house-share with friends from uni, my name went on the tenancy agreement with no problems.

So basically, there was nothing done differently just because of my age. I am not aware of whether this is how it’s supposed to be, or if my uni very just super lax with it all. But legally and administratively I know for a fact that there were no impediments.

The only areas I struggled with were:

• opening a bank account. Had to look hard to find one that would open a basic account to a 16 year old with no family in the UK
• registering for my 16+ Oyster card (as I got over two years of free buses and discounted travel with that), ended up having to use the address of some family friends who registered me as their ‘child’ on the TfL website
• signing off rights of image and intellectual property at the uni every year at registration. Easily solved by my parents emailing a letter over saying that they signed off on it on my behalf

@piisnot3 feel free to message me if you have any more questions. Like you said, this was a fairly recent experience (6 years ago) so perhaps relevant to your question. I am still in contact / occasionally work for my university and last year they had a 17 year old start her undergrad as well. She’s also from outside the UK. It’s not super common, but also not unheard of in our industry.

StandardLampski · 30/08/2022 13:06

I had enough ucas points ( for mu preferred courses at preferred unis) to go to uni a few weeks after turning 17.... I decided not to. Wasn't ready. Stayed home, did another another couple a levels and got a part time job, and a brief boy friend. Grew up a bit, saved money for the next year and went to uni aged 18 .

Wallywobbles · 30/08/2022 13:17

DD is 17 and about to start and frankly it's a pain. She'll be 18 soon but can't get a student bank account until then. It's a bore. A total side point is she also couldn't inter-rail alone because she could stay in hostels alone at under 18.

gogohmm · 30/08/2022 13:32

Exh has an under 18 assign to him as a tutee, he had to have an enhanced dbs, the student is living at home

QuebecBagnet · 30/08/2022 13:35

I might be wrong but would any university course which accepted an under 18yo now need Ofsted involvement? Or would that not be the case of it was only the odd student? We run apprenticeship courses at our university and all such courses are now Ofsted inspected as they have 16 and 17yos.

titchy · 30/08/2022 13:48

That's because Ofsted quality assure ALL apprenticeships (even post grad ones Hmm) not because they have 16/17 year olds on.

We require a parent or guardian details and DBS any tutors who might be on their own with such a student. They're not able to access accommodation.

piisnot3 · 03/09/2022 06:58

Thanks for the responses - I've read them all. Thanks in particular to @NameChange3333 for the detailed account of the practicalities. If anyone else has direct experience, either as a student/family, or from the point of view of uni / admissions, of starting at 16 or earlier, please do post.
UCAS statistics show there are several thousand early entrants every year, with most coming from overseas, but UCAS do not give a breakdown of their age and there is very little other information publicly available.

OP posts:
murmuration · 05/09/2022 12:50

Also from Scotland - regular entrants can be as young as 17, due to school age entry. Might not become 18 until Jan/Feb! If they don't do the final year they can be as young as 16. Some particular access programmes offer entry to Uni instead of the S6 year, and they have special tutors to help them academically (but that's due to the academics, not age).

As far as DBS/ethics stuff goes, 16 is considered "adult" in Scotland, so it doesn't affect teaching requirements. Never actually thought how the drinking age works!

RampantIvy · 05/09/2022 18:57

I don't think @NameChange3333's experience is typical.

DD took a gap year before going to university, and at 19 she would have felt she had little in common with a 16 or 17 year old.

Not all students drink, but so many bars and clubs just don't allow under 18s in at all.

NameChange3333 · 05/09/2022 19:09

RampantIvy · 05/09/2022 18:57

I don't think @NameChange3333's experience is typical.

DD took a gap year before going to university, and at 19 she would have felt she had little in common with a 16 or 17 year old.

Not all students drink, but so many bars and clubs just don't allow under 18s in at all.

My experience was very typical of a 15/16 year old, yes. Of course it's not the average uni experience of someone who goes at 18, 19 or 20.

Statistically, 16 year olds and under, who have already finished regular school - perhaps as early as 13/14 - won't be looking to regularly frequent bars and clubs. They have grown up with very different experiences and mindset compared to the average teenager, and they mostly aren't going to uni for the social side of it.

Anyway, OP was asking about the legal and academic practicalities around this topic, not whether these kids would be allowed to party alongside their peers at the weekends.

RampantIvy · 05/09/2022 20:52

Anyway, OP was asking about the legal and academic practicalities around this topic, not whether these kids would be allowed to party alongside their peers at the weekends.

I do think that the social aspect needs to be considered though, not necessarily around drinking, bars and clubs. Many 18 year olds might feel that they have very little in common with a 15/16 year old, and vice versa, and there is a danger of the younger student feeling a little isolated.

DD used to visit an ex BF in a Scottish university, and one of the students in his halls was nearly 16 (can they even stay in halls at such a young age?). He lasted one term and dropped out.

consideringachange · 07/09/2022 06:38

I went at (only recently) 17, I didn't turn 18 until near the end of the teaching year. This was in the 90s and it didn't seem to make much difference to anything. I skipped a year at 8 so I was used to being young.

As a lecturer we've once had an unusually young student in the dept. This was a while ago. We were circulated some additional guidelines and those directly involved had a DBS check. I believe this student was accompanied by a parent for some meetings.

StamppotAndGravy · 07/09/2022 06:56

What is the plan for afterwards? It might limit options for PhDs at other institutes because supervisors are going to be concerned about maturity. I went abroad where most post grads are older and I had to make quite a case that 23 wasn't a baby!

PermanentTemporary · 07/09/2022 07:02

A friend of mine was 17 when she started uni with us. That was fine, though she was fairly miserable and has ended up retraining into the course and career she should have done anyway. A year off and some work would have been better imo.

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