Students put off by higher fees this September get a second chance to enrol
The number of January-start degree courses on offer has increased by almost 50% compared with the last academic year (rising from 284 in 2012 to 417 in 2013), as universities scramble to pick up students who failed to enrol in September.
January-start courses (also known as semester B entry) allow students who chose not to enrol at university in the autumn a second chance to do so in the new year. Students are then given an extra block of teaching over the summer break to help them catch up with modules missed during first term.
Steven Wyn Williams, dean of academic policy and development at Staffordshire University, one of the institutions to extend its range of January-start courses, says last summer’s admission cycle has forced universities to find new ways to attract students.
“We didn’t hit our SNC (Student Number Control) target, and this is one of the strategies we’re using to tackle that. We’re targeting our undergraduate courses at home students, those who have delayed their decision because of the fees increase, and other groups who aren’t dependent upon a September entry, such as mature students.”
Around 62,000 fewer home students had enrolled at university by this September compared with last year. Over three years, this is the equivalent of £1.5bn in fees.
The number of students who enrol during semester B is modest – Staffordshire University aims to recruit around 100 students across its range of undergraduate courses in the new year.
Unlike degrees that start in September, there are no formal deadlines for courses which start in January, nor is it possible for students to search the Ucas website for semester B entries.
But this may be about to change, according to Ucas. It says: “We are currently working with universities and colleges to consider how the Ucas deadlines can be made more flexible to meet their needs. Our updated course search system, due to launch next year, will give applicants an improved all-round experience.”
Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the university think-tank million+ says more should be done to show prospective student what’s on offer.
“Modern universities have always offered students the opportunity to start a wide range of courses in January and February. Many of these courses have a professional focus.
“It really is a case of modern universities meeting the needs of students and not being hidebound by a once a year, all-or-nothing approach. Ministers could do a lot more to promote it.”
Students entering in semester B pay the same fees as those who begin in September, according to Jenny Ventris, head of admissions at the University of Hertfordshire, which has also extended its number of January-entry courses.
“Students pay the same because they receive the same teaching but in different blocks. It allows students more freedom and I can see it becoming an increasingly attractive option. If the demand is there we’ll expand further.”