https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/12/17/higher-education/

Higher Education

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Today's blog looks at the UCAS report on unconditional offers, as well as university students estranged from their families.

Unconditional offers

Today, Tuesday 17 December, UCAS published its insight report ‘Unconditional Offers – The Applicant Experience’, as part of their wider 2019 End of Cycle Report.

The report finds that over a quarter of 18-year-old applicants from England, Northern Ireland, and Wales have received a ‘conditional unconditional’ offer for an undergraduate place in 2019.

This was covered in The Times (p16), Sun (p2 NiB), Guardian (p17), Telegraph (p14), Independent (p16), Mail (p2), FT, and BBC Online.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We expect universities to look seriously at these figures which show the impact unconditional offers have on students’ grades, and make sure their admissions practices are working for students.

Where institutions are not working in the best interests of students, we have given the Office for Students a range of strong powers to take action.

The Office for Students and Universities UK are undertaking reviews of admissions to look at current practices and we will listen carefully to their recommendations.

Estranged students in higher education

Earlier today the Victoria Derbyshire programme aired a piece on estranged students in higher education.

Figures from charity Stand Alone suggest 8,000 students are now categorised as being estranged. They are calling on universities to offer year-round accommodation, remove the need for a guarantor and ensure adequate wellbeing support services.

This story was covered by BBC Online.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

No student should feel cut off from the support they need in higher education and universities must make sure all students have access to adequate support services, including estranged students who do not have a support network around them.

We set up the Office for Students to hold institutions to account, and where it finds universities have breached rules protecting the best interests of students, it has a range of strong powers to take action, including financial penalties.

From next year UCAS will be helping providers to identify estranged students at the application stage, helping to plan support arrangements they require when starting.

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