New Government 'Upgrade' Scheme for 2008 Watch

Montrose
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The means by which school students apply to get their choice of university is to be overhauled to allow those from low-achieving schools who manage to exceed their predicted A-level grades to get into the most prestigious institutions, ministers will announce today.
From 2008, a new "upgrade week" will allow those who find that they have done better in exams to seek places at universities which they would not have considered previously because they had expected that their grades would not be good enough.

They will be allowed to hold their original choice while they try to "upgrade".

The reform follows concerns that many talented state school pupils do not get places at the best universities because their teachers tend to predict lower grades for them than do those from the independent sector.

Ultimately ministers hope the move will increase the number s from poorer backgrounds at the leading Russell Group universities, which include Oxbridge, LSE, Imperial College London, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and older universities such as Newcastle, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield.

The decision comes after an eight-month consultation which looked at the process whereby students applied to universities, a consultation which split the higher education sector. Older universities had opposed widespread change, while the post-1992 former polytechnics backed the plans.

Today's announcement follows a compromise from the two sides which recommended thatschool students who do better than predicted - those the government is worried are missing out at the moment - get a second chance to apply to a "better" course than they first chose.

Under the plans expected to be outlined today, A-level results would be released a week earlier to give time to make fresh applications. Universities would be expected to hold back a proportion of places so that they can consider these candidates. At least 9,000 students are predicted to benefit from the upgrade week.

But some new universities will fear the system amounts to a "poachers' charter", robbing them of many of their most able applicants, who could drop confirmed places at the last minute because of a better offer.

source: www.guardian.co.uk
Good and bad.

-Better chance of good Uni place for those with teachers bad at predicting.
-A more flexible system.
-Better opportunities for the less financially well off.

BUT...

-Yet more degrading in image of degrees from 'lesser' Unis.
-Probably less students going to 'lesser' Unis, leading to financial problems for said institutions.
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Knogle
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Long overdue. It's never a wise idea to apply based on predicted grades, without an avenue for over-achievers to secure a better offer.

-Yet more degrading in image of degrees from 'lesser' Unis.
Survival of the fittest, me thinks.
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thegreatstupendo
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The only problem I can see is that it will allow people who overachieve at A-level to gain places that they may not deserve. It is very possibel to 'fluke' an A-level exam and thus find yourself at a prestigious university that you don't sdeserve to be at. Teachers generally are very good at assessing a pupil's ability at a subject, and I think an assessment from a teacher is a better indicator of academic ability than an exam.
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arkbar
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'Deserve'?
In addition, in which case there is little point in exams Mr Stupendo,as we could all rely on our teachers to write nice references.
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Knogle
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(Original post by thegreatstupendo)
Teachers generally are very good at assessing a pupil's ability at a subject, and I think an assessment from a teacher is a better indicator of academic ability than an exam.
Strongly disagree with that. Let's not forget the vast room for biasness to slip in, and the complete lack of standards across the board for predicting grades.
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Montrose
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(Original post by Knogle)
Survival of the fittest, me thinks.
We do not want to get into a position though where Universities are collapsing because everyone is fighting for the top 30! There physically are not enough spaces at the top Unis for everyone, and simply, some people are not academically able enough to compete for those spaces. Under this scheme, we are basically saying that some Unis are crap and should be avoided.

Rather than encouraging people to run away, and get ourselves into a position where in the future there might not be enough Unis for everyone who wants one, we should be developing Unis that are not considered good enough, not eating them alive.
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Knogle
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(Original post by Alex Mann)
We do not want to get into a position though where Universities are collapsing because everyone is fighting for the top 30! There physically are not enough spaces at the top Unis for everyone, and simply, some people are not academically able enough to compete for those spaces. Under this scheme, we are basically saying that some Unis are crap and should be avoided.

Rather than encouraging people to run away, and get ourselves into a position where in the future there might not be enough Unis for everyone who wants one, we should be developing Unis that are not considered good enough, not eating them alive.
That will never happen, because there will be people who do not qualify for the top 30, but desire or deserve to go to university. In fact, this is exactly the case now. This new system will simply make sure that the right people end up at the right place, i.e. efficient allocation.

By no means am I suggesting that unis below the top 30 should be shut down. They play a crucial role in the education of society, if not for academic jobs, then for technical or vocational ones.
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AT82
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I think it is a good idea, I know a lot of people who went to lesser universities because they didn't think they would get the grades for better ones.

I guess Bolton may as well close down now though The problem is lesser universities will end up getting some very poor quality students and in some cases this is not fair.
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Knogle
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(Original post by AT82)
I think it is a good idea, I know a lot of people who went to lesser universities because they didn't think they would get the grades for better ones.

I guess Bolton may as well close down now though The problem is lesser universities will end up getting some very poor quality students and in some cases this is not fair.
If society cannot support these academically weak students, then it's obvious that they're better off at vocational or technical institutes. They could be very useful elsewhere. We just have to realise that not everyone is fortunate enough to go to university, and that economics always kicks in at some point.
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jointhedots
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Interesting...I got offers from Nottingham and Bristol which I turned down, thinking I wouldn't get the grades (ABB and AAB respectively), in the end I got three A's and I think if I'd applied after I got my grades I probably would've gone to Nottingham (I'm now at Sussex)...Would this have applied to that kind of situation?
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Apagg
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I don't know if the BBC made the stat up, but from them I heard almost 50% of predicted grades are wrong. I'll have to check.

EDIT: "At present most students apply to university and are offered conditional places on the basis of their predicted exam results.
Admissions service statistics suggest 55% of these predictions are wrong, the government says - mostly over-estimates. ."
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AT82
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(Original post by Knogle)
If society cannot support these academically weak students, then it's obvious that they're better off at vocational or technical institutes. They could be very useful elsewhere. We just have to realise that not everyone is fortunate enough to go to university, and that economics always kicks in at some point.
Many ex polys do offer technical courses though. It also depends what you mean by technical. What is technical? I mean surely dentisty or computer science is technical?

I do agree that too many unsuitable people are going to university but for me I don't give a toss about A levels what matters is what you do once you're at uni.

I think universities need to be much stricter with regards to chucking people of the course rather than keeping hopless students on just for the money, which is what happened on my course.
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Knogle
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I think universities need to be much stricter with regards to chucking people of the course rather than keeping hopless students on just for the money, which is what happened on my course.
Definitely agreed.

But don't universities actually bear significant cost for each student they keep, unless of course it's an international student?
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AT82
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(Original post by Knogle)
Definitely agreed.

But don't universities actually bear significant cost for each student they keep, unless of course it's an international student?
They get money from the government for each student don't they? It dosn't matter to them if they pass or fail as longs as they get the money. This what needs to be changed, but it needs to be changed in such a way that standards don't fall.

I was staggered how easy it was to pass the degree I did, but that is a 40% 3rd, geting high grade was very hard, but a 2:1 and a 3rd are still degrees even though there is a huge amount of difference in those grades.

If people keep consistantly getting 40% or below in their assesments then I think it is highly questionable why they are there.

Somebody on my course failed 7/12 modules, and he is not having to resist the 3rd year, guess what the university get extra money for that. The chances of him passing are virtualy zero because he was thick as a pig.
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Knogle
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(Original post by AT82)
They get money from the government for each student don't they? It dosn't matter to them if they pass or fail as longs as they get the money. This what needs to be changed, but it needs to be changed in such a way that standards don't fall.

I was staggered how easy it was to pass the degree I did, but that is a 40% 3rd, geting high grade was very hard, but a 2:1 and a 3rd are still degrees even though there is a huge amount of difference in those grades.

If people keep consistantly getting 40% or below in their assesments then I think it is highly questionable why they are there.

Somebody on my course failed 7/12 modules, and he is not having to resist the 3rd year, guess what the university get extra money for that. The chances of him passing are virtualy zero because he was thick as a pig.
Then agreed, I suppose that's an inherent flaw in the system. People shouldn't be encouraged to pursue a rigorous academic education if they don't have the ability or willingness to.
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flora
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(Original post by Alex Mann)
We do not want to get into a position though where Universities are collapsing because everyone is fighting for the top 30! There physically are not enough spaces at the top Unis for everyone, and simply, some people are not academically able enough to compete for those spaces.
That is surely the main problem with this idea- top unis are oversubscribed. It would be like clearing in reverse- if you miss your grades, you have to search for a place on what is often a less popular, undersubscribed course through clearing. If the same is allowed when you exceed your grades...well, just how would that work, especially at the top end of the spectrum? Courses at top unis often give offers and have them accepted by more people than their actual capacity, relying on a few people missing their grades to bring the numbers down.

This obviously only applies to competitive, popular courses...but how many courses at top unis like the russel group etc are going to be undersubscribed?? I just see the situations where people are actually able to upgrade being very rare, especially considering that data that most inaccurate grade predictions are too high, not too low...
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Apagg
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They're recommending unis leave 15% vacancies on courses to cover this problem, but I can't see that being too popular. Not to mention that many universities use interviews and other measures to decide an applicant's worth. The standard grade requirement at Oxbridge is AAA for many courses is AAA, but it would be ludicrous to suggest that they open their doors to anyone achieving those grades.
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Montrose
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Plus, this makes original offers redundant because a substantial amount of students will look again anyway after results. How are Universities meant to plan budgets (when they are in debt already), if they dont't have the feintest idea exactly how many students they will really have? It's just too hit and miss for me.
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flora
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(Original post by Apagg)
They're recommending unis leave 15% vacancies on courses to cover this problem, but I can't see that being too popular.
That's awful!! :eek: Substantially reducing the chances of people getting offers who have worked hard all through school and got good predicted grades, as they have to reserve 15% of places for people who might fluke exams, or just realise that they needed to work hard at the last minute. That's about the most ridiculous thing i've heard in ages. Fair enough if a course is undersubscribed as there weren't enough good candidates to fill the places, but to suggest that a uni deliberately limit their intake of perfectly good candidates incase some other people want a second chance later on is terrible...what on earth is this government doing to higher education???:confused:
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Knogle
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(Original post by Apagg)
They're recommending unis leave 15% vacancies on courses to cover this problem, but I can't see that being too popular. Not to mention that many universities use interviews and other measures to decide an applicant's worth. The standard grade requirement at Oxbridge is AAA for many courses is AAA, but it would be ludicrous to suggest that they open their doors to anyone achieving those grades.
Well alternatively they could just mandate that universities don't make more offers than places.

Folks who over-achieve can then apply to take up places left behind by individuals who missed their offer.

Look at universities like Oxford which interview all applicants. If they did pick the very best, then no one would be missing their offers and the uni would be better off. This works to the uni's benefit.Students who excelled will also be given an opportunity to secure an offer from the university after results day.
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