UK Higher Education

Unfazed by Covid-19? Students Remain Aspirational and Prepared to Enter a Buyers’ Market!

Using data across the last two weeks from Whatuni, we have been looking to see what, if any predictions we can make with regards to this year’s Clearing and Confirmation and what impact the pandemic is (or isn’t having) on student search behaviour.  

Let’s be clear – even prior to the fiasco of the last 48 hours this was always going to be a Clearing like no other, but in some ways, it looks like it could, reassuringly be closer to business as usual then possibly many of us have dared to hope for.  

So, what does the last fortnight’s worth of data show us? First of all, we have seen a drop in specifically Clearing search traffic compared to 2019 of around 20%, a figure that seems to be in line with other statistics that I have seen from around the sector.  

Secondly, students (prior to getting their grades) remain optimistic and/or aspirational as the grades which students are using to filter the search results on our sites and return better matches are slightly higher than they were in 2019. This possibly reflects students’ understanding that they are in a buyers’ market and can possibly look to ‘upgrade their university. The top 10 most popular grade tariffs searched for in 2019 amounted to nearly 5000 searches. Of these, 120 UCAS points (equivalent to ABC or BBB in A-level grades) was the most highly searched, making up over 17% of the top 10 searches, however in 2020 the same UCAS points tariff was equivalent to over 19% of the top ten filtered searches. Furthermore, while over 4% of the top 10 searches in 2020 were for a UCAS tariff of 152, (A*A*A* or BBBB ad higher), such a high-grade tariff did not even enter the top 10 searches for 2019.  

Thirdly, there have been some interesting shifts in which regions students are looking to study over the last fortnight. Scotland has seen a marked increase, along with North West England and North East England whilst London has seen a small decline in Clearing searches.  

Finally, we have continued to see increases in interest in subjects related to both Medicine and Science with Midwifery, Nursing and Biomedical Sciences being the top subjects for 2020 so far.  

We will be assessing our data from the Thursday (results day) overnight and hope to be able to update you with further trends and analysis on Friday morning.  

That just leaves me to wish everyone connected with this year’s Clearing and Confirmation good luck and please do get in touch with one of the team if there is anything we can do to assist you.  

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