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Many students leave Northern Ireland due to the lack of university places. But they are usually those with family support. Those with little family finance to fall back on have to stay and are 'shackled' to home. The low maintenance support available in Northern Ireland leaves students and family with some very hard choices to make. Earlier this week, Brian Murphy of Ulster University shed some very revealing light onto the situation in Northern Ireland and student numbers (See ‘The cap that doesn’t fit: Student numbers in Northern Ireland’ HEPI 18th February 2019 ). His main concerns centre around the fact that there is a cap on student numbers in the two universities in Northern Ireland and he looks largely from the perspective of the sustainability of the universities. These are his own university, the University of Ulster, and the Queen’s University of Belfast. Because fees are much lower than those in England, at £4,160 per annum for full-time students, the ‘gove
This week brought further activity in anticipation of the imminent release of the Augar Review . Yet the Times Higher Education ( Augar review caught in tussle over timing and Treasury control February 13, 2019 ) has inserted a small spanner in the works by suggesting that it will be delayed. The reason for this being a possibility, or even likely, is the pressing need for a new government spending review this summer. The previous plan expires and, like it or not, a new plan must emerge with some urgency. But the uncertainties of Brexit mean that there must be several different versions stuck in the pipeline. However, TEFs ( 18th January 2019 ‘Things can only get better? Dream on.’ ) has suggested that the timing of Augar is not so important since the government may be obliged to present a short-term and interim spending plan that takes in Augar, Brexit and the chaos that will ensue. Delaying Agar and then cementing it into the spending review, with no feedback from students and uni
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue And the dreams that you dare to dream, Really do come true. This week saw various reports that are the pretext for the impending Augar Review report. The long-standing myth that high costs of university loans and inadequate maintenance loans helps poorer students into university is being challenged. Yet universities fearful of a loss of income are trying to exert pressure on Philip Augar to maintain the status quo just before his review emerges this month. The basic idea they have is that a ‘free for all’ access to loans will attract those with lower entry grades and this in turn helps less advantaged students. The fact that it opens the door unfairly to many more well off students with low grades is conveniently overlooked. It simply accepts that the school system is inherently unfair and that able students are not likely to reach their potential in attainment if they are from poorer backgrounds. It is accepted that their
UCAS data released this week shows that the gap between rich and poor students is persisting and in the case of the elite universities it is getting worse. Meanwhile, in recent years there has not been a single intervention or initiative from government that was likely to have any chance of addressing the disparities in access to universities. The latest data for UK university applications and acceptances was released yesterday by UCAS ( 2018 End of Cycle Report ). This covers 2018 and comparisons are made for each year going back to 2006. The main headline will be the sharp rise in the numbers of unconditional offers made to applicants. This has risen from 27% in 2017 to an alarming 32% in 2018. In 2006 it was as low as 2% of applicants. There is no doubt that the Office for Students (OfS) will step in, albeit too late, to halt the escalation of this practice. However, if it is seen as a genuine ‘problem’, then it is relatively easy to solve by simply banning it in all but a few