April 18, 2011

A does not mean B

Writing about web page http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/students-not-put-off-by-high-fees-2269555.html

The article states that inquiries about Nottingham university from potential applicants (about undergraduate admissions, prospectuses, and open day attendance) are increasing. The headline says "Students 'not put off by high fees'" (Nottingham is charging £9000, like most other 'top' HEIs).

An increase in inquiries does not equal an increase in actual applications, or any indication thereof. What this most likely shows is that potential applicants are shopping around, trying to find out what they'll actually get for their money. The people who did not especially look around before are now becoming more careful about the decisions they make about where to study, given that the fees have tripled. That is not surprising.

Who is in this apparently homogeneous mass of potential 'students'? Are the same people who are looking at Nottingham also looking at other universities (which will also probably report a rise in inquiries)? What is their socioeconomic status, gender and ethnicity, and how does that compare to previous years? Just out of interest...

Until the actual stats come in on who has applied where under the £9000 regime, claims like this are completely meaningless.


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