November 30, 2017

Government Plans “Credit Transfer” for Undergrads in UK – Switch to Better Universities Now!

Missing the admission to your first-choice university by some marginal grades does sting a bit. Well, it’s not a rare incident. Every year, thousands of students in the United Kingdom fail to make it to their preferred universities majorly due to insufficient grades. But soon the scenario is going to change for the students in the United Kingdom. In a latest report published in The Guardian, it has been mentioned that the government is planning to introduce a scheme where the second and third-year undergraduates in a UK University can move easily to another institution without losing their current credit points.

Reportedly, Higher Education minister of UK Jo Johnson has already begun the process to materialize the framework where the students can move freely from one institute to another without sacrificing their crucial credit points. This will provide the undergraduates (second or third-year students) with a second chance to right wrongs without losing their valuable credits. Students often embark on a wrong course, and it takes them a significant amount of time to realise that they are not fit for the program. This new system will offer them the opportunity to correct that mistake.

As per the report, UCAS, the UK’s higher education admission service, has mentioned that they see this “portability of qualifications” as a “vital” move by the government. It was confirmed by a spokesperson that UCAS is working towards changing its website so that it can be convenient for the second and third year students to look for the vacancies in other institutes. This new framework will allow the students, who haven’t completed their studies, to continue their studies in the new institution from right where they left it. This will, as mentioned before, make it easier for the students, who feel they have chosen the wrong university or course, to transfer more comfortably.

While things are going to more convenient for the students, the experts are anticipating a fresh barrage competition in the recruitment marketplace, which is already quite intense for the universities in the UK.

According to the report, Mike Nicholson, the director of student admissions at Bath University, fears this new move by the government can be harmful to the universities that rank pretty low in the league. He told The Guardian that an admission officer works really hard to get the finest students to join the university in the first year. If he finds that half of the student population is missing in the second year, then it will be really hard for them to make up the numbers.

Nicholson also told that on the other hand, the extra competition might instigate the universities and the courses to improve their game and ultimately provide the students with the education and experience which they have been promised. According to his statement, his institution (Bath University) already receives a lot of interest from a number of students who are willing to transfer there in the second year. What is more concerning is that some of those students want to “trade up” from an institute that stands quite low in the league table. If the new regulations are in place, it is anticipated that the universities with higher ranks will “poach the students” from other institutes which will put the low-ranking universities in bad shape.

A lot of experts have exclaimed that the “poaching of students” may increase with the introduction of the new regulation in the education system, but Alec Cameron, the vice-chancellor of Aston University, says that there is a “strong ethical argument” for enabling the students to switch universities, and anyone who has anything against it, does not have the best interest for the students at heart. Cameron has come from a leading university in Australia and where “credit transfer” is treated as a norm, not an exception.

Cameron told The Guardian that competition for the undergraduate students in the second year is not very explicit in Australia, but it is well-acknowledged that this option to switch universities exists and the universities would be interested to make the most number of students to take transfers into their institution. However, they don’t advertise on radio or television. Instead, they educate the students about this. There is a consistent soft media campaign that uses social media to reach the students, Cameron added.

As per the report, Cameron also mentioned that some Australian institutes, who are keen towards increasing their number of student numbers without dropping the entry grades significantly, use the “credit transfer” system to “churn students into the second year”. These universities usually turn down the application of an underperforming applicant in the first year, but also tell them that they’ll reconsider their application in the second year if the applicant has reached a certain level.

Nick Hillman, the director of the Higher Education Policy Institute thinktank, told The Guardian that when Birmingham University announced that it would be offering unconditional schemes to the students, there was an uproar in the respective sector, but soon enough a number of other universities followed the same pattern. He also added that some universities might start a ruthless campaign where they start advertising aggressively that they are going to take bright second-year students in. He suspects that there will be criticism, but then others will start to follow.

Hillman also mentioned in the report that the “trade up” policy has become pretty common at the Masters and postgraduate levels. According to him, one can find a student pursuing a postgraduate course at the Cambridge who has previously done well at a less prestigious institute.

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