The first to drop out of post-Covid studies face the struggle for fewer university places

The first cohort of students to drop out of post-Covid school faces a summer of uncertainty that “threatens to slow down a generation,” as students compete for fewer places in popular college courses.

After grade A inflation during the pandemic forced universities to receive more students, institutions are now shrinking in popular subjects despite the increase in applications.

Parents and teachers who contacted the Guardian report that students expected to earn A * grades at their A levels, which in previous years would receive offers from many of their preferred institutions, have received a number of rejections.

Stephen Morgan, the shadow school minister, said: “The repeated failure of this government to plan for the future of our children threatens to hold back a generation. Young people who have taken exams this summer have suffered two years of chaos and interruptions in their education, however, the complacency of the ministers leaves them with the added worry that getting good grades will not be enough to move on to the next stage of their lives.

“Last summer we urged ministers to work with universities, we set a plan for this summer’s grades almost a year ago, but the ministers have sat in their hands. The aspirations of the children are a later idea for this government. “

College applications have risen 5% this year, partly driven by higher numbers of 18-year-olds as a result of the mid-2000s baby boom, and part of a trend that is expected to continue for the next decade, and those who delayed the application because of the pandemic.

But members of the Russell group of intensive research universities have over-recruited over the past two years, as a result of higher grades assessed by professors, and now want to return the figures to pre-pandemic levels.

College leaders blame the erosion of tuition fees on inflation to make it difficult for them to take on the growing number of students dropping out of school. To keep the numbers at a manageable level, popular universities are making fewer offers, which is disappointing for some candidates.

Daniel Merrett, 17, a student at a Portsmouth public school who was making free school meals, has an A * in math and is expected to have an A * A * A in other math, physics and computer science. But he was rejected for his top four options: Oxford, Imperial College, Warwick and Bath. He received the decisions very late in the cycle and has decided to reapply next year instead of accepting his Liverpool insurance offer.

“When I read‘ your bid was not successful ’, it was a big shock, I wasn’t ready to see that answer,” he said. “The first day was depressing, I didn’t feel well. You just broke one of your dreams. It made me feel like my A * was less valuable than usual. “

Larissa Kennedy, president of the National Union of Students UK, said: “This is absolutely frightening for students. What they called access was really a closed door, and this news has exposed the myth of this broken education system.”

Maija, a schoolteacher, said her 13-year-old students were facing “frustration and devastation” after several high school students were expected to be rejected from all but one of their universities. alternative option.

“In other years, students with equivalent achievements have been able to obtain the desired places. It seems absolutely illogical to me that a student with such successes is considered not good enough, “he said.

Maija said universities had increased their qualification requirements this year and that some students had applied to “insurance” universities, which later offered their offers, for example, to AAA instead of ABB, which it was no longer a good support.

An email to the University of Warwick schools said that “due to the uncertainty with the grade A and [the international baccalaureate]”Had increased its A * A * A entry requirements.

A university leader said the offers were “more prudent” after seeing higher predictions from professors than expected. Students use the required grades to make their initial applications and typically receive conditional offers to obtain certain exam results.

Mark Corver, the founder of DataHE, said last year’s data showed that high-rate universities were stepping up recruitment after years of expansion. “At that time we speculated that all the circumstances were given so that this was not a one-time mistake, but a radical change in the ability of applicants to access certain types of universities.”

Mike Nicholson, director of recruitment at Cambridge University, said many universities ended up with significantly more students than expected in 2020 and 2021. “So we’re seeing 2022 as a year that many universities “They’re using it to recalibrate. Universities are being very conservative about the number of offers that are being made so that they don’t get caught.”

Nicholson said students are unlikely to be able to “swap” in the cleanup, as more competitive courses and universities would be full. For students considering postponing, he said next year’s supply would likely be even lower.

However, fewer students who drop out of school in England are expected to be postponed or assigned a year after government changes to the student loan system. Students starting courses in 2023 will pay off student loans for 40 years after graduation, instead of 30 years for those admitted to courses this fall.

A spokesman for Ucca University’s Admissions Service said: “We have seen in the last two years during the pandemic that the number of students who meet the conditions of their offer has passed from the exams to the grades assessed by the professor, especially in the most competitive courses such as law, engineering, medicine and dentistry.

“At the most competitive universities, the number of students admitted to full-time undergraduate courses increased from 154,000 in 2019 to 177,000 in 2021.”

Ucas said the 5% increase in the number of 18-year-olds in the UK applying this year, from 306,200 to 320,420, along with 6,000 more students with deferred access places, “will getting a place at many universities is a highly competitive process. “

A spokesman for the Department of Education said: “We want all students with the ability and talent to study at university to do so, and last year a record number of students secured places at the university, including a record number of 18. elderly people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Every year there is competition to get places in the most popular universities and the most popular courses, but the government is working closely with the higher education sector to ensure that students can progress towards high quality courses that give good results “.

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