British universities are taking extreme measures to ensure a supply of recruits for the coming academic year, with some accused of operating secret waiting lists to encourage school leavers to accept their offers amid uncertainty over A-level results.
With many admissions offices braced for a second year of turmoil over results and grade inflation, experts are predicting record-breaking numbers of applications for university places.
But universities vying for highly qualified candidates fear that popular universities – including those in the Russell Group of leading research institutions – may seek to benefit from the likely grade inflation by increasing their undergraduate recruitment for a second year in a row, leaving less popular universities with fewer students to choose from.
A senior figure in national university admissions said some of the most competitive universities are managing the uncertainty with informal waiting lists, in which they contact individual applicants outside the formal admissions process to tell them they may be accepted regardless of their grades if places remain – making those students less likely to accept places at other institutions.
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