According to Ucas admissions data, the offer rate for A level students applying at top universities has fallen significantly. It is now more difficult to get into medicine and dentistry than ever before.
Higher-tariff universities have increased their offers, including the Russell Group’s research-intensive Russell Group. The proportion of applications that resulted in an offer has dropped from 60.5% to 55.1% in 2021.
However, less than 16% of applicants to study medicine or dentistry received an offer this year. This is down from 20.4% 2021. It has left some of the nation’s most successful students disappointed.
These figures were released Wednesday by Guardian reporting that many students who predicted A* in their A levels have been rejected. This is in contrast to previous years when they would have received offers from many institutions.
Shadow minister for higher education Matt Western said that Labour had urged ministers last summer to work with universities. We put together a plan for this year’s results nearly a year ago and the government is still sitting on its hands. To ensure the future of young people, the government must work with universities.
Ucas reports that universities are trying to stabilize student numbers following a spike in enrollments over the past two years due to the Covid pandemic. The overall offer rate is now at 66.4%, compared to 72% in 2019, prior to the pandemic.
Clare Marchant (UCA chief executive) said that the trend is likely to continue over the next few years as universities struggle with increasing numbers of applications because of an increase in the UK’s 18-year-old population. This trend is expected to continue for 10 years, with a rise of 2-3% nearly every year. The number of international students is also increasing.
She stated that the almost 3 million applications received by 2022 from 667,000 applicants were both records at this stage of the cycle and will likely be broken each year. It remains possible to have a million applicants by 2026.
Marchant wrote in a blog post for the Higher Education Policy Institute: “Universities have responded to the increased applications by being more cautious in their offer-making.
Some universities have decided to stabilize their student numbers after experiencing growth in the past two years. The overall offer rate for 2019 is 66.4% compared with 72% in 2019. This is also a sign of future cycles, as colleges and universities adapt to more applicants.
“This lower offer rate means that fewer students who applied to higher-tariff schools are receiving four or more offers at universities high-tariff than last year.”
Marchant stated that although offer rates have declined in general, applicants from the most economically disadvantaged were less affected by the decline, with a smaller drop from 78.8% to 75.1% last year. This will likely be determined by which courses and institutions students are applying to.
Marchant stated that “the stark gap between the most advantaged and the least advantaged continues to exist, with an 18 year old living in an area of advantage being 2.86 times more likely to make a firm decision than their counterpart in a poorer area.”
By the January deadline, more than 43% of 18-year-olds in the UK applied for university. Ucas reports that 281,500 are currently holding a firm offer. This is an increase of 7,000 over last year. 117,000 of these students are also holding offers from higher-tariff providers, which is the second-highest number.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education stated that: “We want all students with the ability to study at university to have the opportunity to do so. Last year, a record number secured university places, including a record amount of 18-year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Every year, there is competition for the best universities and courses. But government works closely to ensure that students can access high-quality courses that will lead to good outcomes.