As this year’s A-level results reveal the number of university students immediately accepted onto courses is down by 7% on figures from 2011, it appears students have been delivered a triple blow; higher tuition fees, tougher A-level standards and increased student accommodation costs.
Simon Thompson, co-founder and director of Accommodation for Students (AFS), comments on what he predicts will be a busy Clearing period, and offers advice to students facing this situation on how to secure accommodation.
Simon comments: “Despite much controversy over the reduced number of university applicants as a result of the rise in tuition fees, which comes into effect for the first time this September, on average, universities are still oversubscribed by 10%. Initial figures suggest that there will be a higher number of students facing university Clearing this year as competition for places in higher education remains fierce.
“The rise in fees has encouraged students to think more carefully about their choice of university and course, with more and more now seeking places at the best universities in order to gain value for money and a greater chance of successful employment at the end. This is allowing those universities to cherry pick students with the very best grades and leaving universities with less desirable courses with plenty of space.”
For students facing Clearing, this can be a daunting time, where plans for university location, course and accommodation can all seem very uncertain.
Simon says “The first thing to do is not to panic. Every year, thousands of students face finding a university place through Clearing and every year the additional worries become easier as external support improves. Often university owned accommodation is full but some places are reserved specifically for those going through Clearing. Alternatively, there is plenty of good quality private rented accommodation available in the form of house shares, rooms in private houses, flats and even private sector halls of residence. Landlords will be keen to secure tenants as soon as possible but don’t be pressured; there are plenty of options and still a good number of weeks until the start of term.”
“Remember, there will be plenty of other students in the same situation as you that you could pair up with, just get online and use student websites and forums to find them ” says Simon.
AFS have a ‘find housemates’ link where students can post what they are looking for or what they have available.
“If you exclude the spike in applications seen in 2010 and 2011 by those students who took the decision to go to university and avoid rising fees, application figures for 2012 are in fact only 3% down on those of 2009. It’s possible this has lulled many into a false sense of security believing there was a higher chance they would be accepted on their university course” concludes Simon.
The UK rental table and student guides on www.accommodationforstudents.com may also be of assistance to those students who are hoping to get placed through the Clearing process. It gives a clear indication of how much rent students looking into private accommodation can expect to pay in the city they are considering.