After A-level results became known a few days ago, colleges have started to prepare for the clearing process. As too many students have not entered universities this year, they are likely to enroll for their own higher education courses. As the shortage of university places was predicted and colleges are trying to help students who have missed their places, the following question arises: Are colleges ready for the increased number in applications?
According to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), young people are more interested in higher education courses than the previous year. The number of secondary school students who are applying for higher education courses has increased by 11.8% this year. The Association of Colleges (AOC) considers that colleges should prepare for the "record number of applications, with demand likely to outstrip supply" for higher education courses.
Cornwall College has followed the lead of Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College and took extra staff to help them in the clearing process on results day. Out of 353 colleges in England, 270 offer HE courses which cost on average £2,000 a year.
In many colleges two-year foundation degrees (FdA) program is offered. Under this program, academic study is combined with all necessary skills required for the workplace. Moreover, after receiving this degree students can get a full degree starting from the third year of study at a university. Paula Whittle, principal of Ealing, Hammersmith Gamp; West London College, wrote in his essay: "Students on our foundation degree in hospitality management get teaching and work placements from top-class chefs and in the best restaurants and hotels, which they wouldn't necessarily get in a university environment.
Although colleges have expertise in vocational learning, not all of them are able to meet the needs of students who have lost their university place this year. In Cornwall College, which has 2,000 full-time HE places, the most popular HE courses are in the marine sciences, zoology and conservation, IT, computing, e-business and arts programmes.
Martin Doel, the AOC's chief executive, says that although colleges are eager to recruit students for higher education courses, they are still "subject to the same restrictions" as universities, because colleges have to control the student numbers.
The decision made by coalition government to reduce the number of places for additional higher education to 10,000 became a real blow for providers. Experts predict that there may be many unfilled places at the beginning of the academic year as many universities accept only those students who hold firm offers. Many universities have to reduce the number of projects in HE, among which is partnerships with colleges.