My Love/Hate Relationship – Uni Admissions, Access to HE…and Accepting An Offer

After nearly 5 months of waiting, a few days ago I finally received all my replies from the universities I had applied for – Southampton, Exeter, Birmingham City, Middlesex and Plymouth – and made the decision to accept the offer from Southampton. Originally, I had applied to study Computer Science at all 5 universities, however, in the admissions process this all changed.

I received reasonably swift offers from the three ‘lesser’ universities – Plymouth, Birmingham City and Middlesex – with, what I considered to be, relatively low conditions. In the case of both BCU and Middlesex to pass my current course and the same for Plymouth, with the added condition of getting 33 out of a possible 60 merits and/or distinctions.

These three were not my first choices, but having received offers from these with such low conditions, I was sure I would receive offers from both Southampton and Exeter, albeit with higher conditions, such as distinctions in all 60 credits – I was mistaken – And, herein lies my love/hate relationship with the university admissions requirements for ‘top’ universities.

I was contacted by Exeter regarding my application, informing me that they do not make offers for Computer Science without the condition of an A at A-Level in Maths, so they made me an offer on another semi-related course. Not ideal, but never fear, there was still Southampton to come.

Southampton then contacted me to inform me of the same thing, no A-Level Maths, no offer for Computer Science. They did, however, make me an offer to study a foundation year in Engineering/Physics/Maths, which would then enable me to progress onto their Computer Science degree, assuming I passed a Level 3 maths test that they provide. I took the test – some differential equations and stuff – and presumably passed, as I was offered a place.

I have accepted Southampton’s offer as my first choice and don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy with the outcome – I get to study Engineering at Southampton!

But here is my real gripe, and it’s not with any of the universities as such, they have their requirements, which they obviously have to stick by. My gripe is primarily with Access Courses.

To elaborate – My gripe is that none of the top (read: Russell Group) universities will make offers to students for Computer Science without an A at A-Level in Maths (or equivalent), which, considering that Computer Science is the route most Access to HE ICT students intend to take, one would assume would be provided in some way through the Access Course or the college.

As it is, the only maths being provided as a part of the Access Course is Level 2 (GCSE Grade C Equivalent), with the option of studying GCSE higher tier on Saturday mornings at another campus.

I see no reason why the college, even if not as a part of the access course, but peripherally, could not provide Access to HE ICT students with the opportunity to take A-Level maths, seeing as how it is being run at the college for other students, thus providing Access students with the full range of opportunities upon completing the course.

I may be alone in thinking this, but I see this as a major flaw in the Access to HE program being run by most colleges across the country. It appears as if it is access to some sort of higher education, but students are being held back by the reservations of what is being taught on the course – in the case of IT, that is maths – an essential part of IT, which is simply not being taught at a sufficient level.

I was fortunate in that Southampton run a foundation year course and they offered me a place on it. In fact, it works out better for me anyway, as regardless of where I got an offer for next year, all I intended to do was the first year of the course while I did fasttrack A-Level maths so I could apply elsewhere, fortunately now, that is not necessary as the foundation year will provide everything I require to continue my studies at Southampton. Happy days, albeit a year later than I would have liked…

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