5 months, 1 week ago


(Well, having started on the Thunderbirds, I’m surely obligated to go through them all!  I’ve also had a really long day and late as this is for the countdown, I’m too tired to search for anything better!)

Instead of just exhorting you to have a plan for all eventualities on Thursday, I’ll give you a few figures that should prove food for thought and prompt you to make plans of your own accord.

There were 649,700 applications to attend university in 2017 submitted by the deadline of 30th June 2017.  529,620 of them were UK applicants, 4% fewer than in 2016.  49,250 applications came from EU member states, also a reduction on 2016, by 5%.  Applications from the rest of the world amounted to 70,830, a rise of 2%.  Overall applicant numbers have dropped by 25,000.  I cannot find information on how many places there will be available for 2017 entrants, but look at 2016’s figures to get an idea:  In September/October 2016, 535,200 students started at a UK university, of whom 465,500 were from the UK, 31,400 from EU countries and 38,300 from the rest of the world.  Applications this year are down, so there were more than 529,620 UK applicants last year for the 465,500 places that were taken by UK students.  You will presumably want to avoid being amongst the 64,000 UK applicants that did not get a place.

The simplest and best way to avoid this would be for your grades on Thursday to be sufficient for your firm or insurance choice to accept you.  After that, you should try speaking to the university to see if you can still get in even though your grades were off target.  The university might have rejected you on UCAS, but it might still accept you if you ring up, show a real desire to study your subject at that university, and it thinks it will have spaces.  Other students might have got the grades, but are “adjusting” to another course, or just change their minds and go into clearing or don’t go at all.  Insurance choice universities never really know how many places they’ve got for days and days after the results are out, so if you are a mile off your firm offer, but not too far off your insurance, you are likely to have a really good chance of persuading your insurance choice to take you.  Frankly, who'd be an admissions tutor?

There were 41,000 courses (not places, courses) with vacancies through clearing in 2016, including at most of the Russell Group universities, up from 37,000 courses in 2015.  St George’s Hospital Medical School even advertised clearing vacancies (and was promptly swamped with phone calls)!  In 2015, 64,300 students secured a university place through clearing.  About half of those using clearing will have been placed by the Monday after A-Level Results Day – so approximately 30,000 places sorted out on the telephone on Thursday and Friday, demonstrating the importance of being ready to act if you need to use clearing.  Make that plan!