This is the first of a two-part posting that looks ahead to the challenges facing students, their families, universities, and the UK governments as the examination debacle recedes. PART ONE considers the situation in the context of the demographic environment with a rising student population. This will continue for the next decade as universities adjust to the unplanned sudden spike in numbers this autumn. The current policy of capping numbers and diverting students into Further Education may be explained by the oncoming rise in the population of eighteen year old students. With number caps now temporarily lifted, the rise in the university intake is generally distributed evenly across the ‘disadvantage’ spectrum as more than expected are accepted onto courses. The gap between the most and least advantaged remains broadly the same. With the brakes failing on using grades to limit student numbers, the pressure on university facilities, their support services and accommodation will become severe. The increased student numbers arising from the exams debacle is only part of the COVID-19 fallout and PART TWO will look at the government response to the impending impact on the least advantaged students.
However, this is 5% of a much smaller number as the percentage game is played.
The rise in student numbers has been similar across each of the POLAR Quintile groups and the recent uplift of grades has not especially helped more 'disadvantaged' students. It merely released them from the previous suppression of their progress to university by erroneous application of the discredited Ofqual algorithm. Now there are further hurdles for them to clear as they move on.
This sets the scene for the many more problems to come for students and their chosen universities. With the examination chaos receding, attention is turning to the challenge of financing their studies. PART TWO will look at the developing situation and how prepared families, students, the universities, and particularly the universities might be.