Tuesday, 31 January 2012

More thoughts on UCAS

Update: This post has been rewritten on 31/1/12 to clarify the point I was making and remove some inappropriate references to a named UUK colleague.

UUK has posted about the latest UCAS data on the UUK Blog. I posted about these data yesterday and made some similar points. The UUK analysis concentrates mainly on the 18-year old cohort for whom it is true (unlike the other age cohorts) that applications are not down very much. This is fair enough on its own terms, but we need always to remember that 18-year-olds are a minority of all applicants.

The egregious Simon Hughes is clearly relying on  this UCAS/UUK analysis as the basis for his wholly untrue and misleading case  in the Guardian:
However, a more objective analysis of the data shows a clearer picture. Although applications were down by a significant number, the total number of 18-year-olds in England this year is significantly down as well. If you adjust the figures to take account of changes in demographic, the application rate in England – which is where the changes in higher education policy have the greatest effect – has declined by only 1%. Just as important, the decline is proportionately higher in areas where more people go to university and which tend to be more affluent (where the figure is 2.5%) compared with more deprived areas, which very encouragingly have hardly seen any decline at all (0.2%). Both of these figures compare with a 3.5% population-adjusted decline in applications across England when the Labour government introduced top-up fees for the 2006 academic year.[my emphasis]
 The most charitable interpretation is that Simon Highes is completely ignorant about HE admissions and has never looked at any applicant data in his life, in which case it is a shame that analysis from UUK and UCAS has so seriously misled him. Less charitable explanations are possible.


  1. I don't know who Simon Hughes is. I've not heard of him.... Must Google now....

  2. Jessica

    Thanks for commenting.

    The relevant issue is that he is/was the Government's 'Advocate for Access to Education' http://simonhughes.independent.gov.uk/

    But Google probably told you that quicker than I did.