He says: "This is the first time in living memory that the scarcity of places has been caused by a limit in the physical capacity to receive more students in some universities. ”
Mike Nicholson, director of undergraduate admissions and outreach at the University of Bath, one of the selective institutions that cut its offerings significantly this year, says that applications for popular subjects, including computer science and biomedical sciences, have “ shot through the clouds ”. He predicts that there will be few free places this year to study at the more selective universities.
Nicholson urges 12-year-old sixth-year students to think tactically about their five college options to protect themselves. “This year we have seen more students who attended five popular courses that ended with only one or two or even no offers. In the future, students will have to think about having an alternative option, "he says.
Applicants to" high-fee "colleges were 20% more likely to be rejected this year, with success rates of applications at these colleges dropping to a level not seen since 2013, according to Data HE's analysis of Ucas statistics.
Tracy Bennett, a Shropshire mother, says it was upsetting to see her daughter, who was to a sixth-year state university, you receive rejections from all four medical courses you applied to this year. Even though your expected grades met the requirements, and even though you did well on your pre-medical application test, she was not even invited for an interview.
"We're getting ready for A-level results day, to join the scrum of cleaning," says Bennett. Her daughter plans to try and win a spot in a cleaning course. biomedicine, with the hope of moving on to medicine later.
“A lot has been lost in the last 18 months for these students,” he adds. "The most we hope now is to get something, since something seems better than nothing."
At first glance, Fran Inman's son, who went to public school and has five offers at popular universities to study politics, has fared better. But he is concerned that after months of struggling to learn independently at home, he may not have performed well enough on internal assessments to justify the AAB scores he needs for his first Russell Group college.
Inman of Bradford-on-Avon, near Bath, says: "It appears that offers have been made as if there had been no pandemic or outage."
Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter, says: "There is great concern that efforts by highly selective universities to attract students from poorer backgrounds will be delayed years after the pandemic."
He explains: "We are facing a perfect storm: further learning loss during the pandemic by poorer students, unconscious bias in teacher evaluations that benefit middle-class students, cancellation of extension work. face-to-face college education and increased competition for degree places fueled by grade inflation. ”
Holly Wimbush, an English teacher at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School and sixth grade in Cheshire, says the pressure on around degrees and college places has seriously affected its students this year. "Student well-being has declined. I have received countless emails, video calls, and meetings about progress, cut-off grades, and anxiety management ".
However, experts say that even if the pandemic fades, this difficult new environment for applicants will not. Corver says an "extraordinary" 25% increase in the number of 18-year-olds in the population by 2030 will increase competition for places. The effect of this will be felt even more strongly, they say, because the number of young people who want to go to college continues to increase every year. This is a long-term trend that shows no signs of stopping, despite comments from the secretary of education, Gavin Williamson, that he believes too many people go to college.
As a result, the Data HE model shows that universities may have to accept at least 60,000 additional students per year by 2026 and 100,000 per year by 2030.
Additionally, universities predict that any move to lower A-level grades to pre-pandemic levels next year or beyond may prove too politically difficult for the government.
Corver explains: “This past summer governments across the UK were forced to reverse grade policy because they saw that when people are faced with the realization of their college dreams they feel they deserve to be taken away. , unleashes a very deep opposition. ”
Nicholson says that rather than leaving everyone in the dark, the government urgently needs to initiate a discussion on any plan to address rating inflation.
next year is probably the one that has been most affected by the pandemic, ”he says. “They have never had to sit for major exams as they did not get their GCSEs, so is it really fair to delay A-level grades?”
Dr. Philip Purvis, Assistant Principal of the Independent High School of Croydon says: “Through no fault of their own, students intending to go to college in 2022 face the fiercest competition in the past 20 years, since the Labor Party first announced the goal of getting the 50% of young people will enter college. ”
He says that this year many competitive universities kept gifted candidates waiting for months before telling them if they had an offer, and he calls for much better communication next year.
Nick Hillman, director of the think tank at the Institute for Higher Education Policy says, "If students don't have the qualifications they need to take the course they love this year, they should know that it won't be any easier next year."
It says students should only take a gap year if they have something useful to do in it. "If they stay home and play Minecraft, their CV will look terrible and they may lose their love of learning."