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Cambridge University could WITHDRAW offers of places after adding ‘over-subscription’ clause

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Cambridge University has added an ‘over-subscription’ clause to its offers which could leave students stripped of their places if too many meet their required grades.

The decision means undergraduates hoping to take a place at the world-leading institution could be left scrambling for their back-up option despite achieving the entrance criteria.

The university’s rule change comes after a move to teacher assessments last summer sparked chaos when thousands of pupils had their A-Levels downgraded by a faulty algorithm designed to replace exam standardisation.

Cambridge said at the time it had made 4,500 offers for 3,450 places, and took on considerably more students than it would normally when the grades were scrapped and replaced by higher-marking teacher assessments. 

Cambridge University has added an 'over-subscription' clause to its offers which could leave students stripped of their places if too many meet their required grades (stock photo)

Cambridge University has added an ‘over-subscription’ clause to its offers which could leave students stripped of their places if too many meet their required grades (stock photo)

But its new terms, set out in a document last month, will cut down the number of students being accepted, even if they have the required grades. 

In a section titled ‘oversubscription’, Cambridge says if the ‘number of applicants meeting the conditions of an offer of a place on your course exceeds the number of places available’ then places will given ‘on a fair and reasonable basis’.

Referring to changes to assessments brought on by the pandemic, the document adds that clause would be used in ‘circumstances outside the reasonable control (of Cambridge)’.

Anyone not allocated a place to start in October could instead be offered another College or course at the university, or the chance to defer a year.  

The university's rule change comes after a move to teacher assessments last summer sparked chaos when thousands of pupils had their A-Levels downgraded by a faulty algorithm designed to replace exam standardisation, before being readjusted

The university’s rule change comes after a move to teacher assessments last summer sparked chaos when thousands of pupils had their A-Levels downgraded by a faulty algorithm designed to replace exam standardisation, before being readjusted

Last summer Cambridge promised all students who initially missed their offer but then had their grades raised by teacher assessment that it would keep their place, although it said some may need to defer.

But now A-Level leavers face the real prospect of being without a place at their preferred university and having to choose between a back-up or an uncertain jobs market. 

Mary Curnock Cook, a former chief executive of Ucas, told The Times: ‘In a normal year, [universities] can rely on well-tried and tested offer-making strategies; this year the challenge will be to make fair offers without opening the floodgates if every applicant achieves their offer conditions.’

A spokesman for the university said: ‘We are trying to ensure students are aware of their options should we be faced with similar pressure on places.

‘This is about planning for the most exceptional circumstances and offering the student the best information to help inform their choices.’

A Ucas spokeswoman said: ‘In the rare cases of over-subscription, we would expect universities to have an open and transparent conversation with students about their options, with the decision ultimately lying with the student.’

Oxford University on the other hand has stated that all applicants who meet their conditions will have their offer confirmed and accepted. 

While universities have been able to provide flexibility for most course numbers, some practical subjects such as medicine and dentistry remain limited due to built-in capacity.  

This post was first published on DailyMail.

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