A-level results came out this week and, as anticipated, there was a steep fall in the number of students achieving the highest grades, although numbers were still higher than pre-pandemic, in 2019. There was also a drop in the number of applicants accepted at higher tariff universities than last year, which has been ascribed to a reduction of nearly 12,000 available places in those institutions. However, in comparison with 2019, a higher number of students have secured their first choice university place this year (though in percentage terms, because the number of applicants is up, the overall percentage is down, from 55.7% in 2019 to 54.4% now).
Meanwhile, in Australia, the government has been praised for its method of distributing the country’s 20,000 extra undergraduate places to disadvantaged students.
The latest monthly monitoring report for the USS pension scheme estimates that it is in surplus of £1.8 billion – this would represent a major shift from the £14.1 billion deficit cited in the 2020 valuation, though USS is quick to point out that the estimate does not represent a full actuarial valuation. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on member contributions, benefits and associated industrial action.
In light of the cost of living crisis, UCU has called on universities to stop charging non-refundable deposits to prospective postgraduate students. The Tab has an article looking into this practice. Meanwhile, Wonkhe has an angry analysis of the data in the NatWest Student Living Index.
High impact journals
A recent study of around 50,000 behavioural and brain science articles by Dr Zachary Horne from the University of Edinburgh has found that articles in higher-impact journals tended to have lower-quality statistical evidence to support their claims. As you know, impact factors are one of the metrics used to assess performance in the REF.