Life After Sixth Form

Helping you get that university place or career

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Universities making unconditional offers in race for top A-level students – Telegraph

This is an interesting development reported in the Telegraph, getting on for thirty years after I received the very welcome early Christmas present of an unconditional offer. I had thought the practice was gone, never to return.

Universities making unconditional offers in race for top A-level students – Telegraph.


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Turning the tables

Last year I wrote a post about interpreting university league tables. In an increasingly market-driven, competitive culture, league tables are more important than ever in the role they play in affecting students’ decisions about where to apply, but just how useful are they?

Recent research from Royal Holloway, University of London, has studied the role that league tables play in applicants’ decision making, and has identified the Guardian league table as the most influential. But does that mean it is the best? Naturally, the Guardian itself has been trumpeting the value and influence of its tables, but I would suggest you read not only their article, but, perhaps more importantly, the comments below it (they get quite heated in places).

The overall message I would give is to make sure that you refer to several tables, make sure you understand how they are compiled, and make sure they are only one part of a decision making process that takes in a range of information and data. Certainly don’t be swayed by differences of a small number of places in a table. As you can see if you spend any time at all looking at the detail, tiny differences in the weighting of individual pieces of data that are less than wholly reliable in the first place can send a university or subject department  soaring up or plummeting down the tables.

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Chasing the job market is no way to choose a degree | Ally Fogg | Comment is free |

As for any teenagers reading, I can’t advise you which course would be best for you. But I can tell you that accountancy students drink the most, philosophers take the most drugs but, as we learned last autumn, economists have the most sex. Coincidentally, the applications submitted to Ucas in January saw a 4.8% in demand for economics. Don’t forget to explain to your parents that the course offers excellent career potential.

Chasing the job market is no way to choose a degree | Ally Fogg | Comment is free |

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PPH students most satisfied | The Oxford Student

Thinking of applying to Oxford? You may want to look beyond the bigger, more famous colleges if you want the most satisfying student experience. I went to Regent’s Park College, which topped the poll of mixed sex colleges for student satisfaction, and at the very top was St Benet’s Hall, a Catholic Benedictine hall, which I remember as being notable for the jugs of (free) beer and cider served at their meals!

Full story at Oxford Student, here:

PPH students most satisfied | The Oxford Student.

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Access to Russell Group universities ‘far from fair’, according to new research – Durham University

Access to Russell Group universities ‘far from fair’, according to new research – Durham University.

An update to the study … found that state school applicants continue to be significantly less likely to receive offers from Russell Group universities than comparably qualified applicants from private schools, although the disparity appears to have become smaller over time.


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Universities admit ‘soft’ A-levels damage chance of top places | Education | The Guardian

We pay particularly close attention to the personal statement. We are looking for signs of individual engagement with the course of study, as well as empirical evidence of a commitment to the subject that goes beyond the A-Level (or equivalent) syllabus.

Successful candidates tend to be those that demonstrate independent, critical engagement with the themes and controversies that underpin the discipline. This is not simply a case of applicants describing the issues they are interested in or listing the books they have read (though relevant reading or research beyond the A-Level syllabus is strongly encouraged). It is about addressing the ‘why’ question. What is it – specifically and explicitly – that so enthuses them about the debates they engage with, the books they read and the ideas they discuss? In most cases, there is a clear sense of the applicant’s own intellectual journey and how this has forged their interest in and passion for the subject.

In all cases a sense of the individual is crucial. A personal statement should be just that – a personal reflection on what it is that interests the applicant about the subject and why. We are not looking for a model answer. Indeed, there are countless different ways to write a successful application. For this reason using a template is STRONGLY DISCOURAGED as it will result in a generic statement that will not distinguish the candidate from the other applicants following the same model.

This is from the University of Bristol, but I think it’s pretty good advice for anyone applying to anywhere, to be honest.

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“I came here expecting windmills & marijuana” – British students flock to Holland


An interesting article about how increasing tuition fees is increasing the number of British (& Irish) students going to study at European universities, some of which, like Maastricht featured in the article, have English as the main language of instruction.


Love UK university clearing house UCAS spellig mistook in their Google Ad: | Plixi


Just because they make mistakes, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be forgiving with yours, so make sure you check, double check, then get someone else to check, everything on your UCAS form.

(Thanks to @ewanmcintosh for sharing this goof on Twitter)

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BBC News – University ‘denied to thousands’

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme has just carried an interview from the head of UCAS about the story reported on the BBC website (see below). It’s an increasingly competitive environment you’re in, so the more care and effort you put into making your University or job application the best it can be, the more chance you have of avoiding being one of those who will be disappointed. Lama week has given you a great head start: make sure you don’t lose that momentum as we head into the summer holidays.

16 July 2010 Last updated at 01:43

University ‘denied to thousands’

By Hannah Richardson BBC News education reporter

Graduation ceremony Competition for a degree place is likely to be tougher than ever

Tens of thousands of people are set to miss out on a university place in the UK this year after record numbers applied.

Some 660,953 applied to start full-time undergraduate courses this autumn, up 11.6% on the same point last year.

And if last year’s pattern is repeated, tens of thousands more will apply before the September deadline.

Lecturers union, the UCU, fears up to 170,000 people could be disappointed, as a cap on places is enforced.

But this is an estimate based on the number of places allocated in UK universities last year, with some additions for extra places in England.