By Matthew Proctor
Cardiff University’s intake of clearing students has hit an all time high for the 2016/2017 academic year, with 1000 applicants being accepted. Such students now account for one in 15 enrolments, triple the proportion (one in 45) of 2009.
This increase in both numbers and proportions can be seen in the context of a university wide recruitment push. With the recent end on restrictions in student numbers, Cardiff is continuing to expand enrolments to gain the additional associated revenue with each student. However, some have argued that this rise in recruitment has occurred irrespective of the consideration of both the suitability of the students they are enrolling, and the impact that larger student numbers will have on the services provided by the university.
Clearing students are often offered places in empty university residences, however this year has seen large numbers denied any university accommodation at all. Some have reported concerns of first years being left to find residence within the private housing market, often without ever visiting Cardiff.
One first year, whom wished to remain anonymous, arrived in Cardiff to find the private sector house she had booked online with fellow first years was still mid-construction.
Nationally, one in seven clearing students were not satisfied with their university (13 per cent), compared with just 6 per cent of other students. One in 10 clearing students were dissatisfied with their choice of course compared with 6 per cent of other students. The clearing process itself has also been denounced by the Previous NUS president, describing it as a process no student should have to go through. The university denied there was evidence to suggest clearing students at Cardiff have a worse experience.
When questioned, the University denied it was targeting a ‘bums on seats’ policy. It claims the rapid rise in student numbers does has not led to standards being ‘seriously compromised’.
The University also stated that the investment in Talygate residences is evidence of adequate investment in halls, despite the fact that the residence in question only accommodates less than half the increase in student numbers since it opened.
The university also denies that vital services are being overwhelmed by the overall dramatic rise of student numbers. Although, this statement has been made in the face of per student funding decreasing for services such as mental health support, and despite ever-growing counselling waiting lists.
The growth in student numbers can also be viewed in the context of the continuing marketization of the university sector. The NUS and the UCU (the union representing university lecturers) have organised for the first time a joint demonstration against the government’s current agenda, which seeks to increase the role of markets in higher education.