Students offered £10,000 to defer places on oversubscribed UK courses

Grade inflation leads to surplus of students enrolled for prestigious degrees

Students on oversubscribed English university courses are being offered £10,000 ($13,840) to defer starting classes after a surge in people qualifying was blamed in part on grade inflation.

The cash incentives are being made to some prospective medical, business and law students.

Sheffield University said there will be no vacancies on its clinical healthcare courses and the University of Exeter has offered free accommodation and cash incentives to medicine students.

The deputy vice chancellor at the University of Leeds, Peter Jimack, said there was a similar situation for law and business courses, and it was creating extra places for medical students.

“We've contacted students on a small number of programmes in two schools to let them know that we are going to make them an offer to defer to next year with an incentive of a cash payment of about £10,000 and our fee for their halls of residence in their first year being paid by the university,” Prof Jimack said.

“We are not putting pressure on anybody to make that choice, it's an entirely free choice.”

For medical students, there is a cap on the number of places based on the number of clinical placements that local hospitals can offer.

There was also a record number of applications after a year in which the National Health Service has been at the heart of fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

At Leeds, the university is creating an extra 30 places for medical students and people who defer will be given help for next year.

“We recognise that there is a national need and we know from the last 18 months how important our doctors and nurses are,” Prof Jimack said.

“So we're stepping up and making available some additional places that we will make available to students from oversubscribed universities to come and study with us at Leeds.”

The pressure on places is a combination of the cap, more people than expected achieving the required grades, and a record number of students applying to study medicine.

A record 28,690 students applied for a medical course in 2021, an increase of 21 per cent on the previous year, figures from the University and College Admissions Service show.

The Medical Schools Council and the Department for Education is working out exactly how the incentives programme will work.

“Medical schools are committed to maintaining high standards of education and training,” the MSC said.

“Currently, the sites where high-quality clinical placements are available, together with the facilities required to support medical education, are not exactly aligned with oversubscribed schools.

“For this reason medical schools have jointly agreed to support a brokerage programme so that applicants who have met the conditions of their offers at oversubscribed medical schools will be given the opportunity to move to different medical schools.”

Updated: August 13th 2021, 2:19 PM