Prospective Durham students have been offered one-off cash payments in return for deferring their degrees for a year, in an attempt from the University to reduce the number of incoming freshers for the 2021-22 academic year.
In emails to students who secured a place at Durham after A-Level Results Day on 10th August, The University provided what they described as “a further opportunity” to delay their studies, in return for payments of £5,000. The policy comes after universities across the country have been dealing with higher rates of offer conditions being met than expected.
The offer is to incoming 2021/22 first-year undergraduates in Classics, English Studies, History, Music, Biosciences, Psychology, Management and Geography, as well as Joint Honours degrees incorporating these subjects.
The payment is the latest move from the University to tackle oversubscription. Previous methods included moving applicants from their chosen college, with an offer of £500 as compensation. Students who take the deferral offer will have their first choice of college guaranteed once they join in September 2022.
In emails to offer holders, the University Applications Office said: “We’d like to offer you a further opportunity to defer starting your studies at Durham until the academic year 2022/23. If you make a successful request to defer we will give you a payment of £5,000.”
“This new offer is to help us manage the number of students who want to study at Durham, having excelled in their A-levels and other Level 3 qualifications this year. We can’t guarantee all deferral requests will be successful. Places are limited, and decisions will be based on balancing the cohort.”
The University has already seen unprecedented numbers of deferrals arriving this year, with the entry of 485 undergraduate students who deferred to 2021-22, compared to 280 undergraduates for 2020-21. Deferrals for 2020-21 were also a 60% increase from the year before.
Last year, potential students were offered deferral bursaries of up to £1,500, though these were in the form of discounts to college accommodation rather than cash payments.
Several other universities have already made the move, with some offering £10,000 for the move.
These moves come after a year of record A-level achievement, which has meant more prospective students have met their offers than expected. Nationally, 44.8% of students have got A* or A grades, higher than the 38.5% of students in 2019-20.
A spokesperson for the University told Palatinate: “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