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To ABBe or not to ABBe (what is the question?) UCAS Applicant Strategy in a Changing Market James Seymour, Director of UK Recruitment & Outreach, Aston.

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Presentation on theme: "To ABBe or not to ABBe (what is the question?) UCAS Applicant Strategy in a Changing Market James Seymour, Director of UK Recruitment & Outreach, Aston."— Presentation transcript:

1 To ABBe or not to ABBe (what is the question?) UCAS Applicant Strategy in a Changing Market James Seymour, Director of UK Recruitment & Outreach, Aston University

2 Workshop Outline Student Number Controls explained Application/decision strategy Unconditional offers When the offers come - CF/CI decisions Clearing and adjustment strategies I want your views and experiences – please feel free to interrupt!

3 Student Number Control – 2014 entry Universities can potentially recruit an infinite number of ‘ABB equivalent’ students Universities have a Student Number Control (SNC) for ‘non-ABB equivalent students’. Small tolerance band, fines imposed if not met. Within that a sub-total for SIVs (Strategically Important and Vulnerable Subjects): Physical Sciences, Engineering and Modern Languages Does not include Medicine, Dentistry, NHS, Teaching Agency funded degrees Lower limit for the most selective universities (WP or Euro issue)

4 It’s not just ABB+ Other qualifications included in the ABB+ equivalent including: International Baccalaureate – 34 points+ BTEC – DDM Includes BTEC/Diploma and A level mix for 2014 Cambridge Pre-U Access to HE Diploma – “ Overall Pass — must include 45 credits at Level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher” Graduates with first degree/PG degree No EU/International country qualifications, other than Irish Leaving Cert Do you/your students realise this?!

5 Which HEIs were/could be affected most Oxford and Cambridge 95% ABB+ Tutorial system and costs likely to prohibit growth – did not expand in 2012 or 2013 Popular/Selective university (top 20-30) 50%-90% ABB+ Could grow – but high level of competition (Aston 50% ABB+ in 2013) – limited expansion in 2012 by a handful. Most experienced reduced intake on 2011, bounce-back in 2013 Mid-ranking HEI – pre-1992 30-50% ABB+ Might lose out to more “prestigious” HEIs looking to grow Lower ranking/less popular HEIs 10-15% ABB+ – reduction in SNC, but predictable, may pick up more BTEC DDM equivalent students?

6 Will “popular” Universities expand? Limiting Factors include: Lab/Seminar room space, space in residences, staff student ratios, professional accreditation, National Student Survey/student experience, % of offers made/applications received Medicine, Dentistry, NHS (Nursing etc),Teaching not affected – still subject to Student Number Controls “Cambridge University will be able to enrol more bright students under government plans” Guardian

7 Will “popular” Universities expand? Balancing act of ABB+ and non ABB+ candidates amongst Universities (2013-2014) Widening Participation/OFFA targets and “Fair Access” Replacing “Core” places when Government took them away to create the “Margin” ABB+ abolished in 2015 according to Chancellor Statement. NOT wise to wait and try and get in next year – there are plenty of spaces for non-ABB as well Unintended/intended consequences already massive – but not fully realised until 2014-17.

8 Who’s in and who’s out – Kings College London example (note ABB not AAB) *Teaching too 2014 entry SNC ?? Only recently given the exact numbers despite offer making being in full swing

9 Offer Making Based on predicted grades – only 10% predicted correctly across their base three A-level subjects Students who apply as ABB+ likely to end up as non-ABB? Exam Boards – will % of A/B Grades decline again?! ABB+ offers give the HEIs more control over their SNC Make more offers in case of increased/perceived competition? Will number of DDM or equivalent grades increase, will all Universities move to DDM at BTEC?

10 ABB vs WP (Widening Participation) More equivalent ABB qualifications (Access Courses and Mix of A level and BTEC) may help redress any perceived unfairness Higher grade policy may mean that a larger proportion of students at competitive Universities are likely to come from independent schools and from traditional backgrounds? New lower threshold SNC limit for the most competitive ABB and WP (OFFA) are perhaps pulling in opposite directions Hence the possible abolition for 2015?

11 What should students do, what should you encourage/advise? Don’t panic or encourage panic! Better to stick with original choice unless originally aspired to or declined an ABB choice due to lack of confidence in grades Course content/structure check essential May encourage students in 2014 to work to achieve ABB or higher to give them a perception of greater choice May encourage grade inflation by Universities in 2014 to be reduced again in 2015? Adjustment Period/Changing Choices/Clearing Be realistic about choices and vacancies Check accommodation, scholarships – may not be available Shortlist of 5-10 possible “targets” Check possible vacancies before clearing starts in August

12 What should students do, what should you encourage/advise? 2014 entry: make students aware of ABB issue but play it down Avoid complacency or raised expectations Medics – 3,000+ unplaced Medics for 2014 entry as of May 2014. Many will have achieved AAA-ABB at A level Contact your key feeder Universities - possible flexibility at the ABB-BBB borderline or DDD/DDM etc General Studies/Critical Thinking Beware grade inflation – Unistats/Guardian/KIS will have actual UCAS tariff on entry for 2012 Encourage points/grades spread on future UCAS choices x1 aspirational/worth a go x3 on or close to realistic predictions x1 good fall-back choice

13 ABB and SNC – Aston University position and response – 2013-14 50%+ of Aston students achieved ABB+ or equivalent in 2013 1,219 “core” places (SNC) in 2013 Required 900 students with ABB+ or equivalent. BTEC – all Aston students have required DDD since 2010 AAB+ Aston Excellence Scholarships irrespective of family income (£4,000 over 4 years inc placement year) Placement year and other unique Aston qualities Guaranteed accommodation on campus

14 Unconditional Offers and other strategies Search on Twitter for “Unconditional Offer” Some a straight U offer with no conditions before results Others a “Scheme” where a C offer becomes a U offer if the student goes Firm Choice - so is conditional! Mainly for AAA predicted candidates/AS grades but some far lower or with no link to predictions 2 - 3 Universities in 2013 20+ in 2014 All out in 2015? Will PQA happen after all by accident? Direct applications may increase (out of UCAS) Your views?

15 Unconditional Offers Confusion and aspiration Mixed messages Perceived fairness Class/school dynamics Adjustment eligible? Predicted grades accurate? What do schools/teachers think? Graduate prospects/employers? What about BTEC and other quals? Could save the AS level when A level reforms come in! Aims to genuinely reward potential…

16 Unconditional Offers – what students actually achieved… 2013 entry, Social Sciences: University A, also applied to Aston but choose University A with Unconditional offer Scheme Original OfferPredicted GradesActual Grades achieved ABBAAAABC ABBAAAABB AB + Dist* ABB A*AB AAB ABBA*AB ABB DDD plus BD*DD + B at A-level DDD+E at A level ABBA*AB BB DistAB Dist* BB D* AABA*AA ABBAAA AAB ABBAAA ABC ABBAAA A*AB ABBAAA BBC

17 Unconditional Offers – my advice Don’t panic and accept a place too soon – often a May/April deadline – wait and look at other options It’s only 10% or less of the pool Don’t assume it will proliferate in 2015 AS grades may be especially important… Clarification from HEIs on “conditions” Await responses and reactions from other Offers Why are they doing it?! Don’t switch off in 2014! Scholarships and awards AAA students achieving ABB would have been admitted anyway? What if a course over-recruits?

18 2015 - what might change Cap on places due to be lifted, no ABB+ student number controls… More unconditional offers and related schemes More direct applications Will “typical offers” fall back (eg from AAB to ABB or AAB-BBB) Widen the applicant pool A level and BTEC/Diploma reform Increase in admissions tests Will Universities expand in a falling demographic trend? Scholarships may reduce for some and increase for others NOT wise to hold back on a first choice place in 2014

19 When the offers come: October – April Deciding CF (Firm), CI (Insurance) CF simply the best?!NOT just the highest grade offer CI not second best but “almost first choice” Unconditional offers in the mix? how “low” do you go? do you need/want a CI? It’s a hassle to be released – would you definitely go there if you missed the grades for a CF? c10% of Aston CI students last year chose a “lower grade” offer as CF and Aston as CI – it may not be easy to change

20 Choosing the Best Teaching Quality, National Student Survey (NSS), Unistats RAE (Research) Contact time/teaching methods – Key Information Sets: KIS Professional accreditation (e.g. IMechE, BPS) Offer Levels, entry requirements, specific subjects Applicants per place/competition League Tables – useful but treat with caution… “Reputation”, “Cache” with Parents/Teachers. It’s not just the Russell Group and never has been!

21 What’s important in the UK rankings?.....the top 6 factors represent 78% of the score. Top 6

22 Rankings: It’s close at the top…. 20 th Place: 774 Points, 30 th Place: 743 Points – just 3 percentage point difference

23 “Graduate Level” Jobs: 2010 and 2011 Graduates 1. Imperial College, London 95.4% 2. London School of Economics (LSE) 94.6% 3. Kings College London 90.4% 4. University College London (UCL)88.9% 5. Aston University88.5% 6. Cambridge University 88.2% 7. Bath University 87.4% 8. City University (London) 86.5% 9=. Warwick University84.3% 9=. Bristol University84.3% UK average c70%. Aston above 20 of the 24 Russell Group Universities Source: HESA, Sunday Times University Guide – September 2011 and September 2012 - 2 year average. Full Time Employed Graduates in “Graduate Level” employment

24 Missed the Grades/Applied Late/Better Grades? Clearing and Confirmation Be proactive Get them ALL to check passwords etc with UCAS Track/Apply Phone (don’t email) and visit Be persistent but realistic Email/text correspondence from Universities common Check accommodation deadlines etc Be flexible, have a Plan B before results day just in case. 2014 entry ABB issue may be interesting but risky too Not all results published in mid August….IB, BTEC etc in July Find Clearing vacancy information UCAS, University Websites, Speedy (not rushed) but rational decisions….and don’t be in Ibiza

25 Last minute changes and no shows Some Universities plan/allow for this in their target numbers but now harder due to funding/date change, especially for non-ABB candidates Frustrating – your students may be missing out on a place held open by someone else Just as common for popular courses as for clearing entry/recruiting courses Essential to let a Firm Choice University know asap Around 4 students in every 100 UK wide Encourage good advice and communication Encourage students to come in to school/college on results day to see you.

26 Realistic but positive…. Vast majority get 4 or more offers (80% plus) Applications per place often quoted – don’t forget students are making 4 other applications. The debate dominated by a few thousand applications for a small number of highly selective courses - less than 2% of total. Check entry requirements and specific requirements (eg A/AS/BTEC/GCSE/IB etc) eg: Aston: 2013 entry: 13,000 applications for 2,400 places: c80% of applicants received conditional offers. Average Grade on entry: ABB from best 3 A levels, DDD at BTEC (380+ UCAS Points)

27 Thanks for listening and keep in touch Any questions or comments? Aston University Services for Schools and Colleges:

28 Useful Websites Guardian: Times OnlineTimes Online – follow the link to Education – features Times and Sunday Times GuidesSunday Times – find your local SCLO Officers…

29 Useful Websites x2 Push Guide, Virgin Guide (Health Warning!) YouTube.Twitter, Facebook, wikipedia etc – still the only HE credible course search

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