August 14, 2017

Did our undergraduate numbers change overnight?

Last Saturday I went to bed as Vice-Chancellor of one of the world’s top 100 universities, with UK full-time undergraduate numbers up 11% (to 9,720) and international undergraduates up 41% (to 2,570) since 2008. Our achievements in research and teaching attracted the very best students from the UK and beyond, but that appeared to change overnight. The Sunday Times now claimed “at Warwick the number of undergraduates doing a first degree fell by 28% while non-EU undergraduates rose by 15%” and “British A-level students” were being discriminated against as universities took “more lucrative overseas students instead often with poorer qualifications”.

Had the world changed radically while I slept? No, there was still no cap on undergraduate numbers therefore no need to choose between countries’ students, rather undermining the story’s whole premise. We still insist on the same high academic standards from every part of the globe. Had our UK full-time undergraduate numbers tumbled overnight from being up 11% to down 28%? No, they are still up 11%. The journalist had used the wrong statistics and had not checked with us.

Warwick continues to offer great degrees to the very best students, from wherever they hail. Our data science BSc might be of particular interest to that journalist.


- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Pam Thomas

    Very well-said (written) Stuart. There is complete failure to distinguish between hearsay and fact in these articles and no attempt to base strongly-worded pieces that grab the headlines on accurate data. The Sunday Times and other such publications need to be called out on this.

    15 Aug 2017, 10:12

  2. Dr Martin Spillane

    From the Unversity of Warwick website:
    Total Number of Students 25,615 Undergraduate 14,967 Postgraduate 9,398 UK/EU 17,471 Overseas (non-UK/EU) 6,894
    Undergraduate Admissions, October 2016 Applicants 37,268 Intake 5,026

    The most important factor is that with 37,268 high quality applicants for 5,026 UG places, it would need a very large reduction in applicants to significantly lower the standard of the students actually admitted. The universities with a problem are those struggling to fill their vacancies, which is demonstrably not the case at Warwick. It would however, be helpful to have the numbers of those who applied and those who were admitted, broken down by UK, EU and Non-EU and also genders. Similar figures for PG students (research and taught) would also be of interest

    15 Aug 2017, 18:34

  3. Dr. Gerard Sharpling

    Yes, an excellent answer from our Vice-chancellor Professor Stuart Croft on this. It is infuriating to think that outside organizations can request data and then misuse it in this way. I wonder what their agenda is though? It’s difficult to see what the Sunday Times stands to gain from this stance, although there has been an increasing political trend to question the legitimacy of international students since 2010.

    Warwick can rightly be proud of its high standards – and the more counter-data that is made available and the more drilled down it can be, the better (as Martin indicates).

    16 Aug 2017, 13:47

  4. Simon Jenkins

    An absolute zinger of a response.

    30 Aug 2017, 14:22

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