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UK Degree Cheaper but More Valuable

Traditionally, admission to university is dependant on teenagers obtaining certain grades when A-level results are published in August. But as universities scramble to fill all of their places, increasing numbers of students are being offered places based on teachers’ predictions alone.
For example:
·      In Montgomeryshire, 16% of students were given an unconditional university place; 15% of students in Dwyfor Meirionnydd got one; and in Delyn and Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, 14% of teenagers received an offer.
·      Cardiff Central (3%), Swansea West (4%), Rhondda (4%), Newport East (4%), Neath (4%) and Pontypridd (4%) laid claim to the lowest proportion of students with unconditional offers.
Change in higher education funding
A change in the way higher education is funded in Wales has put more pressure on university recruitment and there is a suggestion unconditional offers are being made to boost student numbers.
A spokesman for Universities Wales, which represents the nation’s vice-chancellors, said: “Universities in Wales are committed to ensuring that everyone with the determination, skills and desire to access higher education should be able to do so.
“The latest Ucas end-of-year cycle data illustrates the system of recruitment to higher education is changing throughout the UK.
“With the removal of the cap on student numbers, universities across the UK operate in an increasingly fluid system.
What is being cut?
The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (Hefcw), which is responsible for dishing out money to universities on behalf of the Welsh Government, received a 32% reduction in its budget.
Despite some confusion over the real-terms cut, due in large part to anomalies associated with Wales’ tuition fee subsidy, Hefcw maintained that its budget will be reduced by £41m, from £129m in 2015-16 to £88m in 2016-17 under current plans.
What do the cuts mean in practice?
A change in the way higher education is funded means that vice-chancellors are heavily reliant on student recruitment boosting university coffers.
There is considerably less money available for Hefcw to distribute according to particular priorities, with the vast majority being paid to universities through the Welsh Government’s controversial tuition fee subsidy.
So what are the priority areas that are most likely to suffer?
Part-time provision – which tends to cater for older generations outside of the ‘normal’ undergraduate intake – is not afforded the same protection by tuition fees and there is a very real danger that students returning to education in later life will be priced out of the market.
Funding set aside for widening access – which rewards universities for supporting groups of students that would not traditionally progress into higher education – could dwindle and thus seriously undermine the Welsh Government’s headline commitment to tackling poverty.
Do universities deserve more funding?
It could be argued that, despite a history of underfunding relative to England (a fact readily documented by Hefcw itself), universities in Wales should have made better use of what they have been given.
After all, university rankings do not reflect well on the sector and half of Wales’ higher education institutions have failed to break into the UK’s top 100 in some league tables.
The issue now, of course, is that vice-chancellors will have to juggle the pressure of improving rankings with the management of shrinking budgets. As it stands, there appears little chance of wholesale, sector-wide improvement unless purse strings are sufficiently loosened.
How to Find a Good Value University in the UK
Most universities cannot and should not be compared by prices. When looking for a university it is important to remember your education is an investment in your future. Find courses that interest you and start comparing the tuition fees and also what you will get for your money. If you need further information, you can always contact the university with your questions.
1.     Study university rankings. Tuition fee prices are often linked to a university’s ranking. The higher the ranking, the more expensive the course is likely to be. Use university rankings as a guide to the potential price of your shortlisted universities.
2.     High price does not always equal high quality. Look closely at the university rankings and compare the many different rankings that are available to you. Look at rankings for student satisfaction and graduate employment too. And remember, some rankings are the overall score for the entire university – rankings for different subjects at the same university can vary enormously.
3.     Look beyond the rankings. Rankings can only tell you so much. Visit student forums to see what current students are saying about their university. Or look at a university’s links with employers and visit their website to take a look at the career services available to you.
4.     Look for a scholarship. Universities give international students millions of pounds in scholarships each year and many scholarships include discounted tuition fees. We have some advice on how to find a scholarship to study in the United Kingdom.
5.     Choose a less popular course. Popular degree courses such as medicine and law can often be more expensive than other courses. Similarly MBA courses can be expensive so perhaps you could consider the increasingly popular Masters in Management courses. Use our course search to find similar courses to your first choice.
6.     Reduce your living costs. Stretch your budget by saving money on student accommodation by sharing with other students. You can also save money by shopping around for student discounts or by spending your free time visiting UK’s many free attractions, museums and galleries.

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