Heslington East will be the last straw for York’s declining admissions.
The University is losing out in admissions. While, due to a change in UCAS admissions policy, there was an expected drop in admissions of 7% nationally, York has suffered severely with a drop of 14.5% – over double that figure. Furthermore, ten departments have seen falls of over 20%, with the highest being 44% in Educational Studies. As current students, this will no doubt affect the status of our degree once we leave university, but there is a bigger problem.
Everybody loves to hate Heslington East. But now, the proposed increase in student numbers, combined with the dramatic decrease in admissions can only have one result. More students who apply to York will gain entry. Having previously been a pretty standard university for Oxford rejects, York will become filled with all of those who couldn’t gain entry into other lesser regarded universities.
Obviously it is very easy to blame the change in the UCAS application process. But that just doesn’t explain the higher drop in admissions at York. We can also blame the academic departments involved in the drop, but again, this will not alter that fact that Hes East will fill the University with people who previously would not have got in. We can level blame at the parties involved all day, throwing around arguments against Hes East, but ultimately we must look at the winners and losers.
The winners in the long term will be all those who gain access once Hes East is open. The losers will surely be us. We are the students who have gained access to the University when it was considered one of the greats, when it rated highly in the good University guides of the Guardian and the Times. We have embarked on a qualification here, only to be told once we arrive that in a few years’ time the University’s status will devalue to such an extent, that we might as well have taken up our insurance offers. Well I’m sorry, but that doesn’t seem entirely fair.
In a time when banks are accused of advertising to gain new customers while simultaneously ignoring their existing clients, I start to feel the same about our situation here. That the University feel they can sacrifice the quality of students simply in order to line their pockets from an influx of more tuition fees is absolutely disgraceful. A university that only this year was rated within the top 100 in the world, and probably one of the youngest on the list, should not now get above its own station. We are a small univerisity, we offer excellence in particular subjects, we are in no position to imitate big city universities yet.
In trying to expand the size of the University, it is naive to think that you will instantly get the same calibre of students filling the University whilst admissions are already in decline. If the Vice-Chancellor is willing to let our University, still in its first flush of youth, drop before it has had a chance to peak, it is betrayal to all who both study and work here, and some serious questions need to be asked about his motives in doing so.