http://static.guim.co.uk/static/356efc2a04da904d684f8db50ec6a0a1892b7c3f/common/images/logos/the-guardian/professional.gifAs UCAS publishes its latest figures, Kathryn Jones considers the role financial support packages play in student attraction. We are midway through our regular student number planning sessions at Birmingham City University (BCU) to review recruitment targets for the coming cycle and to forecast the pattern in 2014/15 and beyond. In terms of the undergraduate market, as you would expect, we are considering the impact of fees, the emerging trends at subject level and the expansion to ABB of the government's core and margin policy. The question that repeatedly comes up, however, is whether financial incentives have made any difference to our current offer or have the potential to do so. It's an interesting debate and I don't for one minute pretend to have the answers. But it's also one that requires a little clarity.
As a firm believer in the virtues of, and rights to access, higher education, I share the view with many others that there should always exist financial support that is essentially needs-based and intended to ensure that no one is deterred from university on thebasis of cost alone. The National Scholarship Programme has an instrinsic merit that should not necessarily be linked to recruitment targets or bottom line. Read more...