This year, for the first time I can remember, my university hasn’t entered the clearing process. The reason for this (and I quote our Marketing and Communications Department) is that ‘the emerging recruitment position is in line with the government imposed student number control’, which I take to mean that we have reached our quota as a university, and that taking on more students must not take place or it would incur a fine.
The problem with having a university-wide recruitment quota is that it takes no account of individual subject areas. For example, in Chemistry last year we recruited about 100 students into the first year, and we hoped to maintain this momentum in the coming year. But it seems we may not, and we have no control over this. At the moment it’s too early to say what are numbers in Chemistry and in Forensic Science (the two subjects I am involved in) will be, but I predict a reduction, even if there are suitably qualified students out there, simply because we have come up against the quota. And with the new tuition fees regime coming online next year, it will be even harder to predict what will happen in the future.
With ‘A’ level results coming out yesterday, there has been a lot of media coverage of students getting their results, and their experiences in confirming places and in entering clearing. There still seems to be misunderstanding about the new fees regime, but I won’t go there just now! I also heard some preposterous suggestions from students and their parents (and even a radio presenter who should know better) that Welsh and Scottish Universities were somehow being ‘racist’ in charging different fees to English students than their own ‘home’ students! The argument is simple; in Wales or Scotland the respective parliaments can decide how they use the money they get from taxation, and that includes decisons about tuition fees. How sustainable these subsidies will be in the long term is another question, but they are certainly not being racist!
We have an Open Day on Sunday, and there will be other opportunities for students to visit us next week. One thing is for certain, and that is that it will be while before we know what our final numbers will be. I’ll report back on this in a later post.