UCAS applications to Lancaster rise alongside grade entry requirements

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Lancaster University’s UCAS applications have risen by 35% this year, coinciding with a series of rises in grade entry requirements.

Universities across the country have seen a record level of applications in 2011, but Lancaster’s dramatic increase is higher than the 4-5% rise nationally.

However, it is important to note that the percentages are based on year-on-year figures. This means that a decrease in applications (which Lancaster experienced last year) results in a large increase the following year. Whilst it appears the university is oversubscribed, figures for this year are hitting the University’s expected targets.

By UCAS’ January deadline, 583,501 people had applied to universities nationally, which is a rise of 28,026 from January 2010. However, the rise of 5% is the lowest in recent years, and a dramatic fall in applications was noted at the time of student protests and parliamentary votes on tuition fees.

Fred Binley, Head of Student Recruitment and Outreach for Lancaster University, described the increase in applications as “phenomenal”, and declared Lancaster was at “the cutting edge… in being very much a global, research-led institution.” He went on to state that “the calibre of students we are attracting is definitely improving which is noticeable in the typical entry requirements we are asking for our programmes.”

By analysing the statistics for this year’s admissions, it is noticeable that there are a large number of applicants who have placed Lancaster as an insurance choice. It has been suggested that the large number of insurance choices is a reflection of the rise in typical entry requirements.

Robin Hughes, LUSU’s Vice-President (Academic), was pleased with the rise in applicants. “I think the increase in grade requirements reflects both the national trends in A-Level results, and Lancaster’s aspirations to continue to recruit brilliant students,” he said.

Lancaster University’s Undergraduate Admissions Officer, Heather Willes, is currently reviewing the admissions data. Early indications have suggested that campus-type universities and members of the 94 Group were performing noticeably well. There have also been national increases in applications to subject areas such as Physical Sciences, Mathematics, Engineering, Management and Art and Design. This trend was reflected in Lancaster’s data, to the same extent as national trends or to a greater degree.

The University’s application rise has taken place in the year in which several courses have changed their minimum grade requirements. Law now requires students to gain 3 A grades. Shane Manning applied to Lancaster three years ago and he was asked to attain AAB. Manning said “I know lots of people who got lower than AAB but still got in. It will be interesting to see if that occurs next year when the minimum grade requirements have increased.”

Subjects across disciplines have seen an increase in grade requirements. Whilst applying for Theatre Studies with English Literature, Ellie Cootes received an offer of ABB. If she applied in 2011, she would have to attain AAB and she believes the change in grade requirements would have to be justified.

Cootes said the rise is “good as long as they raise the standards of the course with it. I know a lot of people on our course currently who didn’t get the grades and it hasn’t mattered at all.”

Lancaster University’s Management School’s (LUMS) courses have also requested better grades from potential students this year. LUMS’ Accounting and Finance degree previously asked for ABB, which has now increased to AAB. Tom Counsell, a third year student, agreed with the increase stating “Accounting and Finance is a difficult course so grades should be high to ensure there is the best selection of people. With so many people wanting to go to university, and especially Lancaster with its excellent reputation, we should be ensuring we get a high calibre of students to ensure a good set of results.” Counsell added that the University should still seek other factors: “I did a year in industry which would put me in a better position than, perhaps, someone who got slightly better grades than I did.”

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