Less than half of UEA students achieved the grades needed to secure their place last year, with numbers dropping from 64 percent in 2013/14 to 47 percent in 2018/19. There figures showed a consistent decrease in figures year upon year.

One of the most significant drops occurred this year, where the percentage of students meeting their offers was four percent lower than the previous year.

In 2016/17, UEA noticed the largest drop in students meeting their offers with eight percent less students meeting their offer than in 2015/16.

The reasons as to why less than half of students enrolled at UEA this year met their offers is subject to many factors. Undergraduate Officer Jenna Chapman explains that ‘the way that students and universities approach the application process has really changed over the past few years’, citing UEA’s ‘exploration of contextual admissions’.

A representative for the university elaborated on the changes to the landscape of Higher Education, suggesting factors such as the ‘introduction of student fees, greater investment in outreach to young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds, foundation years, the lifting of the cap on student numbers, and much more variety in terms of qualifications’.

Offers have fluctuated over the past few years between different schools at UEA.Courses such as History and Politics have reduced their requirements in the past two years by a grade each, to ABB and BBB at A-level respectively. However, courses such as Law, UEA’s highest ranking subject internationally, now act as one of it’s most competitive courses, requiring all A grades.

Recent discourse surrounding the UK’s admissions system has scrutinised the use of predicted grades in order to gauge an individual’s intellectual compatibility to an institution. The University and College Union (UCU) has argued that the UK is ‘the only nation which uses predicted grades,” noting that research has previously shown that as few as one in six A-level grade predictions are correct’.

This coincides with a significant increase in universities utilising unconditional offers, with annual increases meaning that 7.1 percent of all offers given last year in the UK were unconditional.

It is unclear to what extent the number of students who missed their offers enrolled at UEA under the provision of an unconditional acceptance. There has been debate among students regarding the effectiveness of the system. Many of the students Concrete spoke to expressed that it was this approach that allowed them to begin their studies at UEA.

History Masters student Izzy Voice said she believed unconditional offers were useful when ‘deserved’, but thought that instances where ‘people say they got unconditional offers and therefore didn’t try in their college exams, [was] insulting’.

Another student, Edward Grierson, said receiving an unconditional offer made him work harder in his exams, but understood that ‘what’s important is impressing on people that an unconditional isn’t an excuse to ignore exams’.

We ran an online poll last week asking students whether or not they met their offer for university: 55 percent of our 91 respondents said they did meet their offer and went to UEA. 38 percent said they did not meet their offer but still got into UEA.

Further perspectives from students have made it clear that UEA offers contextual admissions in order to match the way in which the higher education has evolved. A turbulent experience at A-level in not uncommon, and contextual acceptances allow for admissions staff to see past a poor exam sitting.

Third year English Literature student Becca Allen missed her offer by two grades, stressing that she had her heart set on coming to UEA and ‘didn’t really have a plan B’. She has spoken to tutors within her school who are ‘passionately against all the exam-based testing’ as it feels ineffective within creative subjects.

Another third year student, Eva Wakeford, stated that ‘it was comforting and even motivating to know that my first choice university actually cared’ about seeing prospective students ‘as more than grades on a piece of paper’.

A spokesperson for the university told Concrete: ‘We are lucky enough to admit students from many countries around the world and therefore we require a comprehensive understanding of all education systems around the world.

‘As and when new systems present themselves, again our offer can be conservative but this does allow us, when results come in, to be able to make individual judgements on how well a student is going to succeed.’

The spokesperson continued: ‘The University has a professional admissions service that is focused on understanding the different qualifications and how to ensure the right kind of student is being admitted to the University.’

Whether you met your offer to get into UEA or not, we want to hear your thoughts about the number of students getting into UEA without meeting their offer. Let us know on Twitter @Concrete_UEA.


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