Photo: Warwick Media Library

Warwick increases number of clearing spaces

Warwick University is among a number of top universities confirmed to increase admission spaces available through the UCAS Clearing system this year.

The University has Clearing spaces in modern languages including French, German and Italian, and some sciences including Engineering, Chemistry, Life Sciences and Psychology.

There are also places in Sociology and Philosophy, and Hispanic Studies, Theatre Studies and History of Art.

Warwick University was not able to comment on the number of Clearing students that it hopes to accept this year.

12 out of 24 universities in the Russell Group confirmed that they will be accepting admissions through Clearing; a system that students can use to search and apply for courses after receiving their A Level (or similar) grades. Last year UK universities saw a total of 55,700 students find university places through Clearing, an increase of 4,600 from 2011.

The Russell Group in particular saw 6,669 students successfully finding places through Clearing in 2012; an increase from 3,582 students in 2011. It is expected that 2013 will see another rise.

Recent reforms to admissions rules have allowed unlimited numbers of high-achieving students to be accepted into universities. Limits were removed for students achieving AAB grades in 2011, and ABB grades in 2012.

Anna Blackaby, University of Warwick international press officer and faculty of science press officer, said: “Like most Russell Group universities, we have been affected by the reforms to admissions.

“Students predicted AAB and ABB A Level results would in the main only seek to apply to the very best universities such as Warwick, but now universities are allowed to recruit as many of those candidates as they like.

“This is happening at every university, no matter how far down the league tables they are, so many more universities are now competing for those.”

Competition for high-achieving students has led to aggressive marketing and many universities offering scholarships. Warwick does not offer these incentives whereas nearby Coventry University offers scholarships of £1,000 for ABB students.

The 2011 and 2012 changes increased competition for students who did not achieve A or B grades, as course spaces were filled with students attaining ABB or above.

Simon Renton, president of the University and College Union said that the changes “created so much instability and uncertainty that even our most selective universities are vulnerable to under-recruitment”.

There were 11,500 unfilled spaces in the Russell Group in 2012, creating a rise in incentives to prospective students, including those applying through Clearing.

Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell Group, suggested that a positive consequence of uncertainties in the reforms meant that “universities may have more places to offer through Clearing to well-qualified students who have narrowly missed out on their first choice or through the adjustment process for those who have done better than expected”.

The UCAS Adjustment system is for students who achieved higher grades than expected and could ‘upgrade’ university or course, even with an existing offer from a university.

Adjustment was initiated in 2009 with 382 successful admissions. A sharp incline in use saw this figure rise to 1382 in 2012, creating more demand on the spaces available post-results.

Clearing, often perceived in its early days as a system for students that did not get the necessary grades for their first- and second-choice universities, received support from Mary Curcock Cook, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service: “[Clearing] should not be seen as a last chance saloon but a credible application route”.

Around 30,000 places were available in Clearing at the start of today.

Clearing is now open and courses available at Warwick can be found here.

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