Poach the student: how UK universities could compete for second or third years

The Guardian reports that students who don’t quite make the A-level grades to get into their first-choice university could soon be given a second chance: they may be able to switch in their second or even third year under government plans that could see universities poaching undergraduates from rival institutions.

Jo Johnson, the higher education minister, has already set out the government’s vision for a system where students can move more easily between HE providers without losing credit for the work they have already undertaken.

Now Ucas, the university admissions service, has said it too regards greater “portability of qualifications” as “vital”. A spokesman said last week that it is working on plans to change its website so that students can search for second- and third-year vacancies.

Those who don’t complete their studies would have the opportunity to pick them up again later at a new institution. Students who feel they have made the wrong choice of university or course could transfer much more easily.

Mike Nicholson, director of student admissions at Bath University, says his institution already receives quite a lot of interest from students who want to move there in the second year. Some want to “trade up” from a university lower down in the league tables – particularly international students who, Nicholson says, may not have been able to identify the relative merits of British universities from a distance.

He warns that some universities could flounder if such transfers became commonplace. “If you are an admissions officer and you work really hard to get students to come into your first year, and then you find half of them disappear to the university up the road in the second year, what do you do then? Do you try to recruit students from the university in the next town to make up your numbers?”

The Sutton Trust, a charity focused on overcoming educational disadvantage, believes some bright poorer sixth-formers may make the wrong choice initially and want to change once their confidence grows in the first year.

Lee Elliot Major, the Sutton Trust’s chief executive, explains: “We want high-achieving students from poor backgrounds to go to the place that is right for them. For some that might mean going to a good course locally. But we worry that many tend to go to the university down the road rather than considering options further afield.”

Read the full article Poach the student: how UK universities could compete for second or third years

Would you have switched university if you’d had the opportunity? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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Categories: Exams, Further Education, Higher Education, overseas students and University.

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