Jump to content
House Price Crash Forum
interestrateripoff

Peak Education? Universities Struggle To Fill Courses: Falling A-Level Grades And Move To Btecs

Recommended Posts

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2718542/Universities-struggle-courses-Falling-A-Level-grades-shift-away-traditional-exams-mean-thousands-places-not-filled.html

Universities will struggle to fill their places because teenagers are increasingly choosing vocational courses instead of traditional A-levels, a report warned today.

Teenagers face finding it harder to win degree course places because growing numbers are shunning A-levels in favour of options such as BTECs - perhaps to dodge attempts to make A-levels tougher.

As the popularity of A-levels has dipped, the number of top A* grades awarded has slumped nine per cent in just two years.

Universities are now preparing to look elsewhere in the European Union for undergraduates amid increasing competition among campuses for home-grown students.

The trends emerged in a report for vice-chancellors’ group Universities UK (UUK) just a week before sixth-formers across the country receive their A-level results.

It reveals that universities have identified ‘key challenges’ in their efforts to recruit enough students to courses.

These include a decline in the overall population of teenagers and ‘changes in entry qualifications’ including a shift towards BTEC qualifications.

While demand for university appears to have recovered since £9,000-a-year tuition fees were imposed, there is forecast to be a ‘weakening in demand’ for full-time degrees among ‘traditional populations’.

I do love the paradox in the final sentence.

So our Universities are looking for undergrads from countries whose students will take out loans and never repay a penny back? I wonder how long they'll be able to keep that up for. Will these EU students be expected to take a punt on future foreign exchange values?

Edited by interestrateripoff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Typical Mail spin; hammering the youth. I suspect many are looking at the circa £40-50K debt, limited chance of a job at the end of it and deciding uni is not for them. More vocational qualifications is a good thing I reckon as there is no way 50% of school leavers are suited to university style education.

Hilarious that universities are now scouring the EU for undergrads. Good luck with that - but no wonder the government wants universities to take on student loans under those circumstances.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I struggle to believe that any able-minded British kid would not consider going to study in Holland for a fraction of the cost and a multiple of the life experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

moocs...... http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/distance-learning/moocs-%28massive-open-online-courses%29/

anyone tried this?......could it be drop out high because it's in the main completely free, but can be fitted in whilst working....earning and learning.

I would say most university students go to Uni not for the qualification which has now been diluted,in a high proportion of cases a qualification that does not provide a job at the end only massive debt...mainly they go to meet other students, move from home, help become more independent with borrowed money.............a fact in some countries students are paid to go to university to do the courses employers are looking for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In other news, (no one seems to picked up on this) there is a £9bn black hole on the USS final salary scheme and they have proposed ending it to all members next year! Basically they have proposed closing the old scheme and freezing all pensions and introducing a defined contribution scheme next year.

This is the largest remaining funded final salary scheme in the country, but as I keep pointing out to colleagues, if the scheme were truly funded, the defined benefit and contribution pensions would be identical.

Edited by debtlessmanc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In other news, (no one seems to picked up on this) there is a £9bn black hole on the USS final salary scheme and they have proposed ending it to all members next year! Basically they have proposed closing the old scheme and freezing all pensions and introducing a defined contribution scheme next year.

This is the largest remaining funded final salary scheme in the country, but as I keep pointing out to colleagues, if the scheme were truly funded, the defined benefit and contribution pensions would be identical.

Any links for that?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24657049

All I can find is about the deficit in scheme.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.employerspensionsforum.co.uk/en/pension-schemes/uss/briefing-on-the-uss--july-2014.cfm

The only other links are internal universities documents I won't share

Basically they are proposing a pensionable wage cap and a defined contribution scheme to those who want a larger pension

It's complicated but basically, as usual, it protects those in there 50's/60's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The trend towards BTECs will dismay traditionalists who see them as easy alternatives to A-levels. One teacher has labelled them the qualification equivalent of a ‘sub-prime mortgage’.

Hardly credible is it. Did some journalist go out looking for the "one teacher" to give that quote. It sounds more like the Mail wanting to push its own agenda.

It's not as if it's a good comparison with sub-prime mortgages being dodgy mortgages whereas BTECs apparently being a reliable start into a well paid vocation.

Would they have published such a remark if the qualification was called something like BLAW, BART, BBANK, BACCOUNT or BTEACH etc.

Edited by billybong

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Move along. Nothing to see.

One of my earliest memories as a small child was my dad complaining of the difficulty filling his courses, and having to relax the rules and take lots of illiterate students. Though his then-employer - now calling itself University of Greenwich - was a polytechnic back then.

Once I reached the age where I was applying for a university place, he was able to explain the role of the UCCA. You apply to five places on the UCCA form. So if places and students are in exact balance, that still translates to five applicants per place in the statistics, for the purposes of demonstrating the need for more places! So back in the 1960s, institutions like his had been under pressure to expand while at the same time struggling desperately to fill existing capacity.

The same story applies to stories of lots-of-applicants-per-job.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greenwich :lol: That really is sub prime. Weren't they banned for some sort of fraud re o'seas students or something?

(I'm sure it was different when your Dad was there)

You're thinking of "London Metropolitan University". Consistently right at the bottom of the league tables, and got fingered for abuse of student visas.

I don't know about Greenwich (except that it's really at Woolwich). My dad is of the generation that got early retirement, and was out before they rebranded to that name. Not that I see any strong reason to suppose it's either better or worse than in his time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its probably about 25 years ago now, but I did a BTEC Diploma instead of A-Levels. It allowed my focus to be full time on one subject area, rather than splitting it between that and another two unrelated subjects I was less interested in and had no plans to pursue. It seemed to be both wider in scope and more in-depth than an A-level in the same subject at that time (the equivalent A-level was a part-time overview by comparison). We did have some very good tutors but presumably they were following a curriculum that was also good. It got me straight onto a degree course and I did better in my degree than many of my peers who had done the equivalent A-Levels and went on to do similar (and in one case exactly the same) degrees, and without a great deal of effort on my part (the first couple of years of my degree where I saw A-level students struggle were more or less a review of things we'd already learned on the BTEC - which I breezed through).

Maybe things have changed, but if it's still like my experience, I'd consider an A-Level the lesser of the two for anyone wanting to focus on a specific area or with firm plans to go onto a degree in a particular subject. Unless they've dumbed down BTECs a lot since then, they're a bit unfairly maligned I think. I distinctly remember at various points looking at the work friends were doing in A-Level computer science and it seemed like nursery school compared to what we were learning at the time (and that was at a time before all the talk of A-Levels being dumbed down - it's mind boggling to me that they could get any more basic than they were then!).

Perhaps young people aren't choosing BTECs because they're easier - but because they're a better option than A-Levels for many?

Edited by RandomFactor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps young people aren't choosing BTECs because they're easier - but because they're a better option than A-Levels for many?

Maybe. I've no idea. Perhaps more appropriate to vocational than to academic degrees?

I guess those who are well-enough-informed to make a positive choice at age 16+ aren't the issue. But what if schools are pushing kids into soft-options for reasons that might not necessarily be headed by the pupils' best interests?

Besides, it's the daily wail. I expect the BTEC bit might be a red herring. In a whole fishtank of red herrings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In other news, (no one seems to picked up on this) there is a £9bn black hole on the USS final salary scheme and they have proposed ending it to all members next year! Basically they have proposed closing the old scheme and freezing all pensions and introducing a defined contribution scheme next year.

This is the largest remaining funded final salary scheme in the country, but as I keep pointing out to colleagues, if the scheme were truly funded, the defined benefit and contribution pensions would be identical.

New members are already on a CARE scheme rather than final salary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any links for that?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24657049

All I can find is about the deficit in scheme.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/is-it-the-end-for-uss-final-salary-pensions/2013456.article

Final salary pensions look set to be axed by the Universities Superannuation Scheme as part of radical plans to fill an estimated £13 billion deficit.

Under draft proposals drawn up by the fund’s trustees and circulated to employers, academics and other university staff will no longer be able to contribute towards pensions where retirement income is based on a worker’s last wage.

Instead, all active members of the USS – about 150,000 in total – would start to pay into schemes where benefits are calculated on a career average basis from 2015-16.

In addition, the final pension received under the career average system would be cut by 6 per cent under the proposals, Times Higher Educationunderstands.

Promised benefits accrued up to 2015-16 would not be affected by the changes, which will end the two-tier system introduced in 2011 when final salary pensions closed to new joiners, but were preserved for existing members.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually the new proposals are worse than that, look at the link i posted, All previous salaries will be frozen and new CARE salary introduced for all then there will also be a cap to the maximum average pensionable salary and if you want more than that you have to contribute to their defined contribution scheme. It all depends on the cap level, but if it is £25k for instance then essentially everyone is on defined contributions from now on...

Edited by debtlessmanc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe. I've no idea. Perhaps more appropriate to vocational than to academic degrees?

I guess those who are well-enough-informed to make a positive choice at age 16+ aren't the issue. But what if schools are pushing kids into soft-options for reasons that might not necessarily be headed by the pupils' best interests?

Besides, it's the daily wail. I expect the BTEC bit might be a red herring. In a whole fishtank of red herrings.

My BTEC was in computer studies and seemed to cover everything the equivalent computer science A-Level covered at the time, and then some. It had both a theoretical/accademic and practical aspect and certainly seemed to prepare me better than the A-Level students for going onto typical computing/computer science degrees (In the first year of my degree many of the A-Level students were struggling to program in COBOL - which I found astonishing as it's about as simple as you can get).

I distinctly remember at one point not too far into our BTEC course where my A-level friends were being given fuzzy simple overviews of how things worked, and meanwhile we were being taught how a computer worked by building and chaining together arithmetic and logic units, were having the architecture of an old computer explained to us in detail in relation to this, and being taught how to program it in machine code to do something practical by typing hexadecimal numbers into a keypad (we first wrote out our code in assembly language then manually compiled it into bytecode as a way of explaining how assembly worked).

While there was definitely a practical leaning, if anything the theoretical/accademic aspect of my course that underpins higher study seemed better than the equivalent A-Level too.

As I say, this was a long time back, so maybe things are different now, or maybe we were spoiled a bit with some of the tutors we had (one in particular was very smart and passionate being around and involved in the very early history of the computer - so I'm sure his influence helped us a lot).

Edited by RandomFactor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone looking to take on 45k of debt (tuition, living plus interest) do do a 3 year degree better be going to a top 20 institution otherwise it's a complete bust. How many "universities" are there in the UK now? 250? 300?

Yet another bubble in our economy which is a bigger than the housing bubble.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually the new proposals are worse than that, look at the link i posted, All previous salaries will be frozen and new CARE salary introduced for all then there will also be a cap to the maximum average pensionable salary and if you want more than that you have to contribute to their defined contribution scheme. It all depends on the cap level, but if it is £25k for instance then essentially everyone is on defined contributions from now on...

They've set it up in such a way that if there's any hyper-inflationary period the pension will be wiped out. Nice.

"Each year their benefits will be increased in line with CPI (guaranteed up to 5% with half of any additional increase in CPI up to 15% i.e. a maximum increase of 10% per year)."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of my sprogs is hanging on for A-Level results and has an offer for a not-to-shabby-but-certainly-not-Oxbridge uni to do a social-science-y subject. The results will probably be fine so I was a bit surprised when she announced that she had no intention of going and wants to develop her practical skills and have a trade.

As well as being surprised, I was also quite pleased. I simply don't believe that the old university imperatives still exist. Back then, if you had a degree, it differentiated you from 90% of other job seekers. Now it doesn't - and unless it's a "vocational" degree (med, vet, engineering etc) or possibly Oxbridge/Ivy League, I find it hard to see the point. I've worked in some big companies and watched as they take on 50 or so "graduate trainees" on the fast track each year. Sounds good for degree holding until you realise that most degree holders join, not on any scheme, but as low paid drones.

Anyway, my sprog has identified a sought after trade that matches her interests and aptitudes and is hunting for apprenticeships and considering a course at (what I once called) "the local Tech". Interestingly, at one selection day she was alongside guys with just GCSEs, some with A Levels, a smattering of BTECs, and a fair few degrees (one from Cambridge!). She reckons that getting a decent apprenticeship is much, much tougher than getting a uni place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They've set it up in such a way that if there's any hyper-inflationary period the pension will be wiped out. Nice.

"Each year their benefits will be increased in line with CPI (guaranteed up to 5% with half of any additional increase in CPI up to 15% i.e. a maximum increase of 10% per year)."

That's generous I've seen some new pension schemes where it's at the BoE 2% inflation target limit.... Luckily the BoE have been adept at hitting that target repeatedly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyway, my sprog has identified a sought after trade that matches her interests and aptitudes and is hunting for apprenticeships and considering a course at (what I once called) "the local Tech". Interestingly, at one selection day she was alongside guys with just GCSEs, some with A Levels, a smattering of BTECs, and a fair few degrees (one from Cambridge!). She reckons that getting a decent apprenticeship is much, much tougher than getting a uni place.

Is it something like this ?

http://www.jobstoday.co.uk/job/236202/trainee-apprentice-lettings-negotiator-and-part-time-sales-administrator/?TrackID=567479&WT.mc_id=Indeed_Organic_England#sc=jobfeed&me=feed&cm=Jobstoday Indeed Job Extract

Trainee Apprentice Lettings Negotiator & Part time Sales Administrator
  • 6 days left
  • Add to shortlist
  • Apply

As an expanding local Estate Agent Squire Estates now

require two bright, confident and enthusiastic applicants

to join our busy, sometimes chaotic, successful old town

office, all applicants must have their own car.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone looking to take on 45k of debt (tuition, living plus interest) do do a 3 year degree better be going to a top 20 institution otherwise it's a complete bust. How many "universities" are there in the UK now? 250? 300?

Not only do you need to attend a Russell group uni, but you want to get a 2.1 at the end of it (a de facto "pass") rather than a 2.2 (the new "fail") Firsts and thirds are just glorified versions of the 2.1 and 2.2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • The Prime Minister stated that there were three Brexit options available to the UK:   212 members have voted

    1. 1. Which of the Prime Minister's options would you choose?


      • Leave with the negotiated deal
      • Remain
      • Leave with no deal

    Please sign in or register to vote in this poll. View topic


×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.