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The Education Cubed team welcomed Andrew Hargreaves from Data HE to the Brighton office where he shared some interesting insights and analytics surrounding the use of data in Higher Education. Data HE works with universities and clients to help them use data more effectively in their overall strategy, aiding recruitment campaigns and improving performance in universities.

We’re all about creating results-driven, targeted recruitment campaigns for our clients here at Education Cubed, so we were intrigued to hear about the company’s vision to provide the best data analysis possible for HE and how these statistics can play such an important role in persuading students to study at a certain institution.

It’s no secret that the number of 18-year-olds in the UK population has been in steady decline since 2009; since 2016, the rate of entry to university has slowed significantly. With a flat environment and no new demand in the system, everything is still pointing to static UCAS recruitment numbers.

In 2016/17, 540,000 applicants in the UK were offered a university place. But we were interested to hear that the older people get as they enter higher education, the lower the likelihood of them receiving an offer. For students entering at 18, it’s 80%, 19 is 70%, 20 is 60%, 21-25 is 50%, and for 26-year-olds and over, the likelihood of an offer drops to just 45%. Hargreaves also stated how important it is for universities to chase potential students for a Firm Acceptance once they’ve sent them an offer. Although it might sound obvious, not doing this can be the difference between a university’s success and failure in filling course places.

For every 100 18-year-olds, there are 120 university places currently available in the market, meaning there’s more supply than demand. With an over-supply of places in the UK, how will universities and the higher education sector in general navigate these uncertain times? Only time will tell.

It’s certainly an interesting time for higher education, with issues around debt, Brexit, student numbers and course offerings. By 2030, it’s predicted that 40 UK universities will be half the size they are now and some providers will be 50% down on the 2011 market share. Some banks are saying they’ll stop funding universities, leaving certain institutions vulnerable to even small shifts in the market. With questions around financial security and whether the state or universities themselves should be funding students, how the Augar Review will affect institutions and the long-term risks to the size and shape of institutions, there’s certainly plenty to think about.

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