Getting Your Kid Into a UK University

The Financial Times has a rather technical piece on the effect of some changes in how British Universities will be funded. Basically, the universities have been told

  • top students won’t count against your quota.
  • quotas will be cut in proportion.
  • non-university institutes of higher learning have successfully obtained 10000 quota places that were previously held by universities.

What will it take to get a good uni place?
What will it take to get a good university place?

The author of the FT article has analysed carefully how this will affect universities, and concludes

  • Universities will compete aggressively to attract strong students
  • Universities which already attract a lot of good students will be tempted to expand
  • Expensive universities which don’t attract a lot of good students will find themselves in financial trouble
  • Poor students will find it harder and harder to get a university place

Here, a “good” student is one whose top three grades on their A-levels are A, A, B or better. Eventually, it is expected, a student will need three B’s or better to attain a university place.

So what does that mean for kids now in primary school? It means a couple of things

  • Firstly, universities will become more differentiated – it will be easier, in the future, to know which are the good universities and which are not.
  • Secondly, the bar is being raised. A student with two B’s and a C in 2022 may get no offers at all, as opposed to today.
  • Thirdly, life will be sweet for the few students at the top. If you have two A’s and a B under your belt, you’ll have no doubts about getting a place in a course you want. No more quotas, remember?
  • Taking these last two points together, it means those last few exam marks become so much more valuable. The student with two B’s and a C will be worse off in 2020, the student with two A’s and a B will be much better off.

If doing just a little bit better will be a whole lot more valuable, what does this mean for a parent or teacher today? Well, you can expect a boom in the private tuition industry, for one. For those with children now in primary school, remember that a good foundation established now will help enormously when “junior” is 6 foot tall and battling acne.

My advice :

  • Take an active interest in your child’s education. Bring educational activities into everyday life.
  • Go heavy on games, drills and encouragement towards academic performance.
  • Support your child’s teacher. They want your kid to do well, so do you. Work with them to help bub succeed.
  • Help your child with his or her homework – but don’t do the homework for them! This will help you stay in touch with what’s going on in school, and you’ll discover quickly if your child starts falling behind.
  • Maintain open communication with your child. Don’t overwhelm them with high expectations. Always encourage them that they have the ability to improve.
  • Overall, be encouraging, creative and diligent. Your child’s schooling was always important for their future. Now it’s become even more so.