Students entering university now are doing so with better qualifications than in the past, according to a new report by Universities UK (UUK).
The report revealed that in 2017 the average university entrant had 340 UCAS points (equivalent to BBB at A level plus a C at AS level). This is compared to 313 tariff points in 2011 (equivalent to BBC or BCC at A level plus a C at AS level).
The news dispels the myth that growing student numbers since 2012 has led to falling entry requirements.
The report, which examined UCAS admissions end-of-cycle data, also found that many universities are now accepting a wider range of pre-higher education qualifications, such as vocational ones like BTECs. It is thought that this has improved access into higher education for students not from A level backgrounds.
Alistair Jarvis, UUK Chief Executive, commented: “This has made it possible for people from a broader range of backgrounds to benefit from a university education.”
Many universities are now accepting a wider range of pre-higher education qualifications, such as vocational ones like BTECs
Student numbers have grown by over 100,000 in the past decade which has led to increased competition between universities for student recruitment; a climate that many commentators have referred to as a “buyer’s market”.
Alongside the government removing the cap on student numbers, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), has forecasted that this trend will continue over the next decade, predicting that English universities should be preparing to accommodate for a minimum of 300,000 new undergraduate places by 2030.
The analysis found that the surge in competition for students has led to more students than ever receiving university offers. As well as increasing their offer rate, universities are making their offers more attractive, such as in the form of unconditional offers, which have increased by 1,600 per cent, to increase student intake.
The data seem to refute the argument that ‘more means worse’. But the true story is probably a lot more complicated
– Nick Hillman
Earlier this year, MPs were voicing concerns over the way in which the increase in unconditional offers could deter more students from reaching their academic potential.
UUK’s report drew attention to the this rise in unconditional offers. It said: “It will be important to monitor trends and impacts of this practice. School leaders have raised concerns that unconditional offers can demotivate students and undermine their attainment at A level.”
Nick Hillman, director of the HEPI, also commented on this: “The data seem to refute the argument that ‘more means worse’. But the true story is probably a lot more complicated. For example, the university drop-out rate has increased recently, which suggests that university entrants may not be as well-prepared as they could be.”