Posted Friday 3 August 2012
A university education is just as valuable as ever and young people should not miss out on the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential, according to Kingston University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Julius Weinberg.
With an increasingly competitive jobs market and higher fees coming into play this year, students were under ever more pressure to think carefully about their futures, he added. "Young people - and their parents too - are understandably concerned about the changes that have taken place in higher education recently," Professor Weinberg said. "However, a university degree is still of great value - an investment not just academically but for a variety of important life skills that create rounded, employable graduates."
Speaking as students across the United Kingdom prepared to receive their A-level results, Professor Weinberg acknowledged that for the young people who had committed to making such an investment in their future, the prospect of missing out on their predicted grades and forfeiting a place in the lecture theatre could seem overwhelming. However, with a little planning ahead, a disappointing result did not have to mean the end of university ambitions, he said.
He advised that, in the week before A-level results were released, prospective students should see which universities and courses they might be interested in should they fail to get the grades needed for their initial choices. They should also programme the Clearing hotline numbers of those universities into their mobile phones. Those interested in courses at Kingston should remember to check the University website before dialling the hotline number so they could be sure they met the minimum entry requirements and could check which courses still had places.
On results day, a team of 55 specially-trained operators will be answering calls to Kingston University's Clearing hotline and guiding students without a confirmed place towards the course vacancies still available. Dami Omisore, from Shepherds Bush, knows exactly how the callers will be feeling. She contacted Kingston's Clearing hotline last year after not quite securing the results she had hoped for. One year into her real estate management degree, and alongside taking up a prestigious work placement, the 20 year old has decided to join the team answering calls from prospective students. "Last year a Kingston hotline operator made me feel really valued as a potential student and I want to be able to do that for someone else," she explained.
Dami has one main tip for anyone entering the Clearing process. "When you're calling about one course, don't dismiss others out of hand. Look beyond the degree titles and ask yourself if the subjects appeal to you," she said. "The Kingston course tutors advised me that my course was a good fit for me and they were right. It's definitely worth still chasing that dream of going to university even if, like me, your results are a blow. It might even turn out for the best."
On A-level results day 16 August, official course vacancy lists will be published on the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website and in the Daily Telegraph. Students applying through UCAS will be able to check the status of their application on the track page. Those without a place will see a Clearing button appear to guide them through to receiving their electronic Clearing number. This needs to be given to universities when calling the Clearing phone lines. Students should always make the calls themselves and have their A-Level and GCSE results to hand ready to give hotline operators.
Young people who have applied to Kingston University through UCAS will receive a text message to let them know if they have successfully secured a place, whether the University is still waiting for more information such as GSCE or BTEC results, or whether they need to enter Clearing. Students whose grades are just off the mark will be advised by text to call the University to see if they are able to secure a place on a similar course. Those who get better grades than expected will have the chance to take part in Adjustment which allows students to reconsider what and where they want to study without losing the option of their original firm choice.
Although university tuition fees have increased this year, Professor Weinberg is keen to remind prospective students they will not have to find the money up front. "Students will be able to access loans to cover tuition fees and will only be expected to pay back the money in instalments once they have graduated and are earning at least £21,000," he explained. "There is financial help available at all universities - at Kingston we are offering support for students from low income backgrounds through two different scholarship schemes." Eligible students can apply for the scholarships as soon as they have a firm offer of a place at the university.