Potential student numbers cap for universities amid Covid-19 pandemic

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StrawberryDreams
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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52086932

Universities UK and HE institutions are in discussion over whether introducing a potential numbers cap for universities is needed to stop a 'free-for-all' happening in student recruitment, with some smaller universities worried they may potentially be unable to get the student numbers they need to have a full cohort of first years in September if it doesn't happen.

What do you think about the idea of a cap on the number of students that a university is allowed to admit this year? Are you worried about the impact something like that may have on your application, or do you think it's a good idea to keep everyone calm?
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Pharyngotympanic
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Maybe this will encourage people to stop and think whether they need to go to university right now, instead of just going because it has become the thing to do these days when you finish school.
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username3231782
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I'm really confused. I thought once someone accepted a firm offer it cannot under any circumstance be withdrawn by the university?
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Polinaa)
I'm really confused. I thought once someone accepted a firm offer it cannot under any circumstance be withdrawn by the university?
It can be withdrawn under normal rules if you change things on your end e.g. not taking all the qualifications you said you would.

However the articles on this do imply that unis could be forced to withdraw offers this summer- this would be pretty unprecedented, and unfair on students, in my opinion, but obviously we are living in very unusual times.
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swanseajack1
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
It can be withdrawn under normal rules if you change things on your end e.g. not taking all the qualifications you said you would.

However the articles on this do imply that unis could be forced to withdraw offers this summer- this would be pretty unprecedented, and unfair on students, in my opinion, but obviously we are living in very unusual times.
Whilst it states there might be a cap most universities other than the top few dont reach their numbers and that is after including insurance choices and foreign applicants. I dont see it being a problem for most students but possibly could reduce the numbers available in clearing and adjustment. It might be a problem for a few high end universities and subjects like Medicine. There always used to be a cap until Gove removed it and since then some universities increased their numbers. I suspect if there is a cap it would have to be the figures for last year. There always is a sort of cap as there is restricted housing and room in classes anyway.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by swanseajack1)
Whilst it states there might be a cap most universities other than the top few dont reach their numbers and that is after including insurance choices and foreign applicants. I dont see it being a problem for most students but possibly could reduce the numbers available in clearing and adjustment. It might be a problem for a few high end universities and subjects like Medicine. There always used to be a cap until Gove removed it and since then some universities increased their numbers. I suspect if there is a cap it would have to be the figures for last year. There always is a sort of cap as there is restricted housing and room in classes anyway.
I'm aware that there used to be quotas for unis, but I think this will work differently. In the past, if unis were going over quota, then they would often encourage students to defer for a year- however, this wouldn't help in the current situation, so I'm not sure it would be allowed.

I hope you're right, and this only affects a few unis, but for it to work as intended, caps would need to be quite strict. I think it would have to be tighter than last year's numbers, unless it was last year's numbers of domestic students only.
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Edminzodo
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(Original post by Pharyngotympanic)
Maybe this will encourage people to stop and think whether they need to go to university right now, instead of just going because it has become the thing to do these days when you finish school.
I completely agree. One of my friends got 2 Es and a U at A-Level, then panicked to find a university course because 'everyone else did it'. Luckily, things worked out as they ended up doing an agricultural course which led into a placement year and then a job, but they are still in debt when they could've done an apprenticeship and learnt just as much. It was purely that there seemed to be no other option out there, even though there is.
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NotNotBatman
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Well the article is just speculation.

Don't universities have their own caps already? Are they talking about a government enforced cap?

With my university, I honestly think there are too many students and it's obvious that it's only for financial gain along side other measures, such as outsourcing staff. The libraries, despite being huge, commonly have no space, it's massively overcrowded and even some first years struggled to find accommodation, which is supposed to be guaranteed, because there were so many people admitted and this was after they built a new hall of residence. There's even been instances where there hasn't been enough space in the lecture theatre for the whole cohort.
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Napp
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University is a privilege not a right.
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DoritoEvie
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Yes, it would absolutely suck. But at the same time, universities may not have the resources to hold that many students so perhaps forcing a cap would help.
E.g, at my uni they offered a normal amount of spots last year, but more than expected accepted the offer firmly and thus they had 250 students in a course meant for 150. Space was scarce and they had to employ two more full time teachers to deal with the surplus of students. Students and teachers both complained the year group was too big and this year the uni had to clamp down on how many offers they can realistically put out. Interviews were much harsher. This way universities won't be overwhelmed and with the possible surplus of students having achieved their grades because their predicted indicated such. If there are too many students then they can't all get the quality that they would expect, either because the resources are too little, too little staff, or other.
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SarcAndSpark
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There's another guardian update here: https://www.theguardian.com/educatio...ity-admissions

This is talking about a government imposed cap- these were in place before 2015. It does sound like some unis could do with an externally imposed cap. It is known that some unis try to subsidise their more expensive (often STEM) courses by taking on more students for cheaper to run humanities/arts courses.

I think, if unis are still doing online learning in September, and missing out on international fees, then an externally imposed cap could be no bad thing. However, it wouldn't feel like that to students who miss out on their place.

Although the original article seems to talk about offers being withdrawn, it's worth bearing in mind that most unis have let in a LOT of "near miss" students over the past couple of years- and sometimes even people who aren't really near misses at all. These will be the students who miss out first, before those who've achieved their firm offers.
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swanseajack1
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
There's another guardian update here: https://www.theguardian.com/educatio...ity-admissions

This is talking about a government imposed cap- these were in place before 2015. It does sound like some unis could do with an externally imposed cap. It is known that some unis try to subsidise their more expensive (often STEM) courses by taking on more students for cheaper to run humanities/arts courses.

I think, if unis are still doing online learning in September, and missing out on international fees, then an externally imposed cap could be no bad thing. However, it wouldn't feel like that to students who miss out on their place.

Although the original article seems to talk about offers being withdrawn, it's worth bearing in mind that most unis have let in a LOT of "near miss" students over the past couple of years- and sometimes even people who aren't really near misses at all. These will be the students who miss out first, before those who've achieved their firm offers.
Reading that article it doesnt sound like they are looking at withdrawing offers. It is more the effect of reducing overseas students and institutions trying to increase their numbers to compensate. For example where would the 8000 foreign students from LSE be replaced. Other universities just below like say Manchester and Exeter who in turn would need to replace the lost students plus the overseas students they will have lost. They maybe trying to restrict the numbers to protect universities lower down the chain rather than trying to prevent people with offers going to universities. They might restrict adjustment and possibly clearing but there is nothing to suggest they wont accept offers made.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by swanseajack1)
Reading that article it doesnt sound like they are looking at withdrawing offers. It is more the effect of reducing overseas students and institutions trying to increase their numbers to compensate. For example where would the 8000 foreign students from LSE be replaced. Other universities just below like say Manchester and Exeter who in turn would need to replace the lost students plus the overseas students they will have lost. They maybe trying to restrict the numbers to protect universities lower down the chain rather than trying to prevent people with offers going to universities. They might restrict adjustment and possibly clearing but there is nothing to suggest they wont accept offers made.
Yes, that's what the original article said- it's basically about making sure all unis get enough students to survive the 2020-21 academic year.

It's the original article from the Guardian which appeared to suggest offers could be withdrawn.

I think they would need to allow clearing so that students who are rejected from their firm/insurance are able to find places, or the system won't work- but the lack of places available at top unis may meant that there are much more limited options for students in clearing/adjustment than in the last couple of years. I also wonder if UCAS won't include their "self-release" feature this year.
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