By Theo Burman
Durham Univerity has begun to offer £5000 deferral payments to a larger group of potential students, with prospective freshers who applied for Computer Science, Law, Liberal Arts, Natural Sciences, Physics, PPE, and Primary Education now also being offered the deal.
Previously, the offer was only made to students who applied to study Classics, English Studies, History, Music, Biosciences, Psychology, Management and Geography. The policy, designed to reduce the number of incoming students for the next academic year, was introduced after a massive increase in successful offers after A-Level Results Day in August.
The new subjects in the expansion continue the trend of the most popular degrees being targeted for deferrals, with Durham being ranked in the top 10 nationally for all the subjects listed, and in the top five for several of them, including English, History, and Law, each of which took in over 700 full-time students last year.
Previously the policy was criticised by Durham Students’ Union, with both academic officers, Declan Merrington and Charlie Procter, saying that the University’s attempt to reduce the number of students for the coming academic year is “short-sighted” and a “poor decision” in a statement last week.
“Scrambling to offer a deferral grant of £5k weeks before students arrive on campus is a poor decision made by the University Executive. This is money that will come from current student fees to spend on mitigating the extent of overcrowding. It also puts extra stress on offer-holders who, expecting to start term in just a few weeks, suddenly have a big decision to make.”
The influx of students means that overflow plans have placed students in private accommodation for their first year, with incoming Collingwood students being placed in Rushford Court, a Unite Students block 27 minutes away from Collingwood’s main buildings. Additionally, Palatinate understands that at least two other colleges will also be using private accommodation in a similar way.
Freshers have also been paid £500 for moving colleges in an effort to distribute overflow across all colleges.
Last year, potential freshers were offered bursaries of up to £1,500 for deferring, though these were in the form of discounts to college accommodation rather than this year’s cash payments.
The University’s justification focuses on preserving academic experience, with a spokesperson telling Palatinate that “We are offering this scheme because of the unprecedented success of students in this year’s A-levels and other Level 3 qualifications, and to help ensure the best possible academic and wider student experience for all students through targeted action to manage the sizes of some of our new entry cohorts in Departments and in our Colleges.
“Whether students chose to begin their studies with us this year or next, they can look forward to a world-class academic and wider student experience.”
Image: Durham University