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MPs to probe unconditional offers from universities watch

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    (Original post by 999tigger)
    What is it exactly you are disagreeing with? Unconditionals are still only a small % of offers. Unless you show me that its against students interests to accept an unconditional as they perform significantly less well then I cant say im fussed. I have no problem with it being a market and unis having to sell themselves to students. As pointed out a little more consumer education in choosing might help, but as we have a loans system then imo its only right unis compete for students and the weak ones will not thrive.
    I'm disagreeing with you saying the university sector has always been a market. The market we see now is a very recent thing comparatively. Unconditionals may not be incredibly common, but they're becoming more so. And I do wonder what it would be like for someone to have a degree on their CV from a university which had to close... if the market works as it should.

    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Birmingham is the worst offender - it's a clear marketing strategy by them, and not necessarily in the interests of the student. Birmingham is only interested in securing bums on seats ahead of their competitors.
    Have you heard about their "personalised videos"?
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    (Original post by PQ)
    There's an argument that you could manage a PQA system easily by shifting all universities to calendar years (starting in January) instead of academic years (starting in Autumn).
    I doubt the unis would buy into that. There's a lot more money to be made hosting conferences during the summer than there is hosting during December.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    Ew no. Ideally, I would like no exams at all until the final year of high school (and replace A levels with something like the IB or Abitur). Although, I can see the argument for some kind of exam in Year 9 (but not SATs / national exams) so teachers can gauge pupils' strengths and weaknesses.
    Not an expert on this... but I think Sweden (for example) has entrance exams for their equivalent of sixth forms.
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    (Original post by 04MR17)
    Have you heard about their "personalised videos"?
    Not until now... http://www.connectingelement.co.uk/c...of-birmingham/

    /shudders.
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Not until now... http://www.connectingelement.co.uk/c...of-birmingham/

    /shudders.
    I'll dig out mine and show you it.

    EDIT: I can't believe I've just said that. What I mean is I will find the link to the video Birmingham sent me.
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    (Original post by Dez)
    I doubt the unis would buy into that. There's a lot more money to be made hosting conferences during the summer than there is hosting during December.
    There's a large (and growing) international market for courses starting in January - a lot of UK universities are now offering that for postgrad and a handful offer it for undergrad too :flute:

    There's always going to be a break of some sort in the summer - conferences only last a week max, summer schools 3-4 weeks max....it might just be a case of moving from a 3 month summer break to something more spread out.

    Not that it'll get anywhere - tradition is more important than fair admissions :rolleyes:
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Not an expert on this... but I think Sweden (for example) has entrance exams for their equivalent of sixth forms.
    Didn't know that, but then Sweden doesn't strike me as the best education model to follow (didn't they come up with the ridiculous free school concept, and just as they were dropping it because it didn't work, we took it up). :facepalm2:

    In Norway students have the option to move away for high school, which sounds fun. I believe students can get government grants for living costs and live in dorm-like accommodation away from their parents. I once spoke to a girl who randomly decided to spend her last two years of high school in Svalbard of all places. :eek:
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    (Original post by PQ)
    There's a large (and growing) international market for courses starting in January - a lot of UK universities are now offering that for postgrad and a handful offer it for undergrad too :flute:

    There's always going to be a break of some sort in the summer - conferences only last a week max, summer schools 3-4 weeks max....it might just be a case of moving from a 3 month summer break to something more spread out.
    I guess it largely depends on the uni. I know the one I went to had the 3 months of summer hols chock full of conferences, from start to finish. No way would they give up on that cash cow.

    (Original post by PQ)
    Not that it'll get anywhere - tradition is more important than fair admissions :rolleyes:
    Ain't that the truth. :moon:
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    Do you agree that there are too many unconditional offers given out?
    Yeah, I mean I got 3 unconditional if firmed for this years UCAS cycle - and almost all of my friends got at least one. It sort of takes the value out of an offer. It's great when you are really nervous about exams, but it definitely does demotivate you.

    Do you think that unconditional offers given in exchange for being firmed are a form of bribery?
    Of course! I know personally of 3 people in my social circle this year who have taken unconditionals to universities that weren't their first choice - just because they were worried about exams and wanted to get rid of the stress. I totally get that, but sometimes they could go somewhere statistically better or that they preferred.

    Should we change the university application system altogether and wait until students have their confirmed A-level grades before applications even begin?
    I actually think this would be a great idea. It would stop the anxiety, and ensure you apply for places you actually know you've got a shot at. More of the focus would go into the quality of your application, over your grades if you're all officially of the standard to get a place, which might be better. Plus, I can't imagine how horrible it would be not getting into your firm and insurance. I don't know how it would actually, logistically, work.

    I think that unconditionals should be given out in exceptional circumstances - where the student has surpassed what is expected of them and proven that they definitely deserve a place, and that they definitely want them at their university. I think these should be given out after interviews, they should be on a personal and holistic basis. How can a university feel so confident about a student without meeting them, especially since so many lie in their applications and personal statements? I feel like they've really lost their value. The best thing to do, to get unis to attract students would be to give lower offers over unconditionals. There is still a measure of academic achievement needed, but the faith that the student is wanted so much at the university that there is some leeway. I had 3 unconditional if firmed, but high (AAA) entry requirements if not. I decided not to take any of them, so I now I have some tough goals to meet. It seems unfair that someone could get into a course with DDD that I wouldn't with AAB.
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    (Original post by CoolCavy)
    I dont know about that. It didnt make me less stressed from an exam perspective as i always wanted to get good grades so regardless i worked for that but it was nice to know i was definitely going somewhere as for someone with anxiety it made results day less anxious from a university offer perspective. Also i dont know about other courses but for arts courses uncondtionals make sense and people dont get a place unfairly from them. You have to make a portfolio and then attend an interview. This is a **** tonne of work especially when trying to balance 3 other a levels and everything else. If they **** up their a levels then yeh they didnt work as hard at the end as someone who did well in their a levels necessarily but they had worked hard prior to that point otherwise wouldnt have been given the unconditional in the first place (mine was based upon my portfolio, my AS grades, my predicted grades and my interview performance). Unis that just give out unconditional without an interview or without seeing the applicant is a different matter but that wasnt what i was referring to.
    So glad to hear someone say this! I'm an Architecture applicant, went through the whole incredibly laborious and time-consuming process of putting together a portfolio and preparing for interviews. But now that I have most of my offers (waiting on the fifth) I'm genuinely concerned that I'm not going to get the grades I need, because having sacrificed so much time since the beginning of the year to prepare everything for my application, my A-levels ended up on the back burner. So I feel like an unconditional would be a deserved offer, at least more so than unconditionals given out, as you said, for applicants who simply send off their UCAS without anything more to do.

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    Off topic, but which A-levels did you do and what are you studying now? I'd love to know as the grades you achieved (and a huge congratulations for achieving them!) are the grades I need for my first choice.


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    I don't see an issue with unconditional offers in general, but I don't agree with them in exchange for firming the uni, that definitely pushes people to potentially make the wrong decision.
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    It's not a uni's fault if a student starts studying less because of an unconditional
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    (Original post by Amanzhol)
    So glad to hear someone say this! I'm an Architecture applicant, went through the whole incredibly laborious and time-consuming process of putting together a portfolio and preparing for interviews. But now that I have most of my offers (waiting on the fifth) I'm genuinely concerned that I'm not going to get the grades I need, because having sacrificed so much time since the beginning of the year to prepare everything for my application, my A-levels ended up on the back burner. So I feel like an unconditional would be a deserved offer, at least more so than unconditionals given out, as you said, for applicants who simply send off their UCAS without anything more to do.

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    Off topic, but which A-levels did you do and what are you studying now? I'd love to know as the grades you achieved (and a huge congratulations for achieving them!) are the grades I need for my first choice.



    :five:
    Firstly well done for getting 4 offers :hugs: and yeh can understand that :/ UCAS can at times feel like a 4th A level anyway what with the work of the personal statement and stuff, when you add in portfolio it does get time consuming. I know some people used some of their A level art work etc and i did include that but i didnt want it to be the focus of the portfolio because i wanted to show i did extra curricular art/design stuff in my own time i.e i had a passion for it i wasnt just doing it for an a level, so that really did take up time although i did start it quite early (middle of year 12 i think if irc) which helped but still.
    :hugs: try not to worry, you still have time now to do revision etc for a levels and i hope it goes well for you :yes:
    and yeh totally, can understand the argument that just throwing out unconditionals to people for submitting their PS is a bit fishy but i do genuinely think it is different for interview courses. and different again for the arts as you can see the skill to a certain extent as it is more a visual interview than a scenario based one as with medicine or something. It makes sense that if the tutors like what they literally see that they would want to nab those applicants

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    oh wow that's a quite high offer for architecture :eek: usually offers are lower for arts for some reason, good luck :jumphug:
    and sure, i did history, art and product design (dropped biology at AS just cos it bored me and history was better ) and something design related but will keep it vaugueish for privacy cos public forum :ninja:

    good luck with everything, hope you smash it :goodluck:
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    Government forces universities to compete with one another.

    Government is surprised when unis start competing.

    Sometimes a free market is not the best solution.

    [Edit: although it is of note that until recently this happened all the time. Back when you could do modular a-levels, you could come into your final exam needing like 50% in your remaining exams to achieve AAA, or 40% to achieve BBB or whatever your offer was. An increase in officially unconditional offers doesn't ell the whole story].

    (Original post by PQ)
    I'd like to see schools/colleges boycotting universities that try to manipulate their students in this way (obviously unless that specific course/university was the applicants top choice regardless).
    How?! A school can't just unilaterally ban certain graduation options from its students!
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    I think unconditional offers are a scam for courses that are failing to get enough applicants.
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    Yes, unconditional offers have grown insanely in the last year alone.

    Any non top 50 uni is a joke to get into, sorry to offend anyone here. They give everyone offers and you can miss your grades as much as you want as long as you get 3 E's.
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    Maybe you ought to consider something more like Scotland where most applicants in Scotland to universities here have already taken and have the results of their Highers prior to application.( if applying for after sixth year)

    Whilst some courses may still be made subject to the sixth year Advanced Highers being taken a fair chunk are not and unconditional offers are often offered on the strength of the Highers already passed.

    My daughter received four such unconditional offers, two from St Andrews, one from Glasgow and one from Aberdeen, her fifth choice, Edinburgh for some reason did not even making a conditional offer.

    This does of course depend on probably having five strong Higher passes at the end of fifth year, my son only being offered conditionals on a slightly weaker Higher group (he had only passed four)
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    I think that although unconditional offers should be allowed, they should be extremely limited and only given in circumstances where it is deserved. They should not be given out willy nilly.
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    I accepted an unconditional from an average university when I was 19. I hated it and left after the first year. Course was wrong for me, and I didn't like the university, but it took a lot of pressure of me at a time when I was so unsure about what I wanted to do with my life. Looking back, it was almost certainly about getting students through the door, because I had little experience or passion for the subject that I applied for, so i'm certain that they didn't see anything special in my application.

    A few years later I returned to college, resat A-levels, and worked my arse off to meet my first-choice conditional offer at a RG university for a subject that I had found a passion for during my time out of education. I was successful with that and that's where i'm at now, very happy with my university and course, and achieving grades I would never have thought possible a few years ago.

    I never really doubted my ability to succeed, I was just so uncertain about what I wanted to do after I left sixth form that I was underachieving and settling... and part of me does feel that universities took advantage of this somewhat when making unconditional offers. As once I actually got there, the support that I was looking for was severely lacking.


    I will say though... I don't really blame the universities themselves for the situation. Nowadays even most RG universities go into clearing, yet they're more reliant than ever on the tuition fees. The whole system's kinda screwed.
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    (Original post by CoolCavy)
    :five:
    Firstly well done for getting 4 offers :hugs: and yeh can understand that :/ UCAS can at times feel like a 4th A level anyway what with the work of the personal statement and stuff, when you add in portfolio it does get time consuming. I know some people used some of their A level art work etc and i did include that but i didnt want it to be the focus of the portfolio because i wanted to show i did extra curricular art/design stuff in my own time i.e i had a passion for it i wasnt just doing it for an a level, so that really did take up time although i did start it quite early (middle of year 12 i think if irc) which helped but still.
    :hugs: try not to worry, you still have time now to do revision etc for a levels and i hope it goes well for you :yes:
    and yeh totally, can understand the argument that just throwing out unconditionals to people for submitting their PS is a bit fishy but i do genuinely think it is different for interview courses. and different again for the arts as you can see the skill to a certain extent as it is more a visual interview than a scenario based one as with medicine or something. It makes sense that if the tutors like what they literally see that they would want to nab those applicants

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    oh wow that's a quite high offer for architecture :eek: usually offers are lower for arts for some reason, good luck :jumphug:
    and sure, i did history, art and product design (dropped biology at AS just cos it bored me and history was better ) and something design related but will keep it vaugueish for privacy cos public forum :ninja:

    good luck with everything, hope you smash it :goodluck:

    Thank you! And yeah I completely agree, I must admit I mostly used A-Level work but it still took so long to just put it all together properly. Again I completely agree, a much better/more accurate image is formed of applicants who are interviewed (and who have portfolios in the case of arts courses), and therefore there's a much better basis on which to decide who truly deserves unconditional offers.

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    I know right... I'm not going to have much fun trying to get the grades, but I'll try!

    That's a nice combination, I also do Art and Product Design, with Physics as my third (god help me). Don't suppose your design related course is Architecture is it? Feel free to PM me if you don't want to reveal your course publicly :ninja:

    Thank you again, good luck on your course!
 
 
 
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