Clearing students ‘more dissatisfied’, survey suggests

Students who apply to university after receiving their A-level results are almost twice as likely to be dissatisfied with their course, a survey says.

August 14, 2013

According to a poll by consumer group Which?, 13 per cent of clearing students were not satisfied with their university compared to 6 per cent of students who applied through the main applications process.

Ten per cent said they were unhappy with their choice of course compared with 6 per cent of other students, according the 390 first-year students interviewed for the survey.

Just over a third of students (37 per cent) said they felt pressured into taking the first offer they received, while 45 per cent said they felt rushed into making a decision after receiving their exam results.

However, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service said 94 per cent of those placed through clearing last year were content with their choice.

Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by London South Bank University suggests a third of people change their career plans at least three times after getting their A-level results.

According to the online survey of more than 2,000 students by polling company Opinion Matters, only one in three end up working in the career they chose at secondary school.

With so many students considering their options, clearing was an opportunity to take stock and re-evaluate, said Lynn Grimes, director of UK student recruitment at London South Bank.

“Results day is an opportunity for many A-level students to re-think the choices they made many months or even years previously,” she said

“It’s also not just a chance to change your mind about your chosen university or course, but also an opportunity for many - who previously had not considered going to university for whatever reason - to re-evaluate that decision and apply through clearing.”

Universities are well prepared to deal with the busy admissions period as many applicants receive their exam results, said Paul Clark, director of policy at Universities UK.

“Despite the annual predictions of chaos, universities are very experienced in this area and admissions departments will cope remarkably well,” he said.

“This year, we have seen more applications, more offers made and more applicants placed compared with this time last year. As will be the case for hundreds of thousands of applicants, if they get the grades asked for in their offer, they will get their place.

“For students who miss out narrowly, there may still be opportunities to find a course that suits them via clearing. Last year, over 50,000 accepted places via this route.”

Meanwhile, Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, said students should not be put off by fees of up to £9,000 a year.

“There are no up-front payments and you are only expected to begin paying back your loans when you are earning a good salary or £21,000 a year or more, and even then the payment is only a small fraction of income.”

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