Busy day today, necessitating an early start and a packed morning followed by a trip to the Big Smoke later on.

I thought I’d use my daily post to try a little experiment.

Yesterday I mentioned that applications to do Physics courses in the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University had increased enormously since last year. That prompted a couple of people to contact me, via email and Twitter, to admit that the same thing is happening at their institutions. With UCAS reporting that applications nationwide are up by only about 4%, I’m a bit confused as to what is going on.

I don’t know how many of my (1000+) daily readers work in UK universities, let alone which ones or whether they’re in a position to know what undergraduate applications are doing, but I would be very interested to hear whether this pattern is being repeated and whether it’s just physics that’s booming.

So, in lieu of a proper blog post for today, let me invite you to take part in a straw poll through the comments box. Where are you? What’s your subject? Are your applications up?

Do tell.


31 Responses to “Admissions”

  1. I just wanted to mention that it very well could be just sampling bias: The people who contacted you are the ones that saw a similar pattern at their universities, the people who didn’t (including those who saw an opposite pattern) probably would not have been as inclined to mention it.

  2. Physics applications here at Lancaster have gone up dramatically. We also had a big change in the profile of application arrivals: a massive surge of early application saw us 50% up by the end of November. It started to moderate and by the end of Jan we were up by about 25% when we closed the physics courses to UCAS applications (a first for us).

    There was some interesting news in our termly faculty forum meeting this week. It was reported that this trend was consistent across the Faculty of Science & Technology at Lancaster – applications are significantly up across all the departments. In contrast, Science and Tecnology application numbers from other universities were also quoted and the picture seemed to be that the big positives were balanced by some big negatives at some pretty prestigious institutions.

  3. Maybe mmaluff – would be good to hear from any of those depts too, but maybe as you say they won’t be prepared to admit publicly at this stage! But I am hearing of ridiculous increases in applications from a number of places. Anyone have overall numbers nationally from IoP? Just listening to Brian Cox on Chris Evan’s Radio 2 show – surely not a “Brian Cox Effect”? (He just said “applicants for physics up 40-50%” but didnt say whether that’s national or just one institute.)

    • telescoper Says:

      There has been a big increase in the number of readers of this blog over the past 6 months. Perhaps that explains it? 🙂

  4. telescoper Says:

    I should have mentioned that I have spoken to quite a few candidates during our open days in Physics. Although these were a small subset of the total pool of applicants, I didn’t establish any coherent picture of why so many more had applied this year.

  5. Andrew Liddle Says:

    There was some chat about this a couple of weeks ago at Astronomy Forum and the picture seemed to be that most, but not all, places had seen physics applications up by several tens of percent.


  6. Simon Morris Says:

    Just checked, and apparently we have not had a large increase in applications here in Durham.

  7. Our application numbers are up by about 7% but have now decided to close to new applicants. I think this was an early closure, but am not certain. If it was an early closure presumably the application increase would be still higher by the previous closure date.

    Does this make us prestigious or not?

  8. All this about closing confuses me a bit. Hasn’t the UCAS deadline passed anyway?

    • It depends…

      15 Oct: Application deadline for the receipt at UCAS of applications for all medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and veterinary science courses and for all courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

      15 Jan: Application deadline for the receipt at UCAS of applications for all courses except those listed above with a 15 October deadline, and art and design courses with a 24 March deadline

      My understanding is that applications after this date can still be considered, but it’s at the discretion of the individual institution.

    • So quite a lot of universities continue to accept applications after 15 Jan. Or to put in another way, 15 Jan is the earliest a university can legitimately stop accepting applications. This open/closed status goes down to the course level, so it’s possible to close off one degree course but leave another open, depending on demand.

  9. Hmmm… I worry that my use of “prestigious” is gathering a momentum all of its own…

    Just in case it wasn’t clear, I was simply noting that the ups and downs seem to well mixed among the universities: old, new, big and small. The trend is not obvious!

  10. A related question: what courses are applicants wanting to take?

    For example I know a number of places do ‘Physics with … (e.g. astrophysics)’ course as well as straight physics. Where a surge exists is it across the board in these courses or is there a preference for a particular ‘flavour’?

  11. Anton Garrett Says:

    Perhaps students are realising in a recession that you stand a better chance of a real job if you do a real subject rather than some of the mickey mouse courses available?

  12. Phil Uttley Says:

    At present Southampton phys & astro applications are up 24% (across all of the degrees we offer, not sure of the breakdown for ‘withs’) – the university as a whole is only up 1%. Whatever is happening it sounds good for UK physics & astro – did someone put something in the water?

  13. […] not going to benefit much in the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University from the current boom in applications, as our numbers have been cut since last year despite applications going up by […]

  14. Applications to Leicester Physics or Physics+ are also up by a large factor, more than Lancaster for sure.

  15. Surely some mistake

  16. […] a pretty large increase in its quota of undergraduate students. This is excellent, as I’ve previously reported that we have had a huge surge in applications this year. We’ll have to work hard to squeeze […]

  17. […] academic year (2011/12) in the School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University.  I blogged about this a few months ago when it became obvious that we were having a bumper year. As it turns out, we […]

  18. […] School of Physics & Astronomy at Cardiff University was up by a whopping 53% on last year. I blogged about this a few months ago when it became obvious that we were having a bumper […]

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