Universities offered cash incentives to prospective undergraduates

Posted by Tom Walker in

Universities across the country offered cash, scholarships, unconditional offers and even sports memberships to undergraduate candidates as incentives to accept their university offers over others.

Progressively, ministers have been eroding universities' intake restrictions, allowing for an institution to accept unlimited numbers of applicants with AAB or above. Further to that, an additional 30,000 places have been made available as a precursor to George Osborne's announcement of total deregulation from September 2015. Consequently, the number of spaces available to students considerably outweighs the number of students applying, therefore creating a "buyer's market." Consequently, a competitive higher education market seems to be unfolding as institutions try to buy applicants away from other universities. Sarah Jones, a director in property adviser DTZ's educational team, goes as far to suggest that this new market could produce a "price war" in which institutions simply offer a reduction in the £9,000 tuition fee as opposed to a cash prize.

The higher education market has radically changed from just a few years ago when students were struggling to receive offers from their top five choices in UCAS. Now, research suggests that several young people are receiving unconditional offers from all five despite the grade results they receive later this week. Mike Boxall, a higher education expert at PA Consulting Group, has explained that "Students are now customers and it's all about sales . . . and the kind of sales gimmicks that you might have for a holiday or a hotel." University of East London is offering applicants a £1,200 progress bursary that also includes a Samsung tablet loaded with textbooks and Surrey University is giving students who achieve high grades £3,000 along with free membership of its sport facilities.

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