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A Level results: are universities buying students?

A Level results: are universities buying students?

It’s that time of year again; students all over the country are either celebrating or panicking their way through clearing. There’s solid evidence to suggest that many more are celebrating.

According to the Financial Times 88% of students won places to their first choice universities this year, marking an increase year-on-year, with the vast majority of results being a good news story.

The headline figures from the BBC show that 26.4% of students achieved either A or A* grades, compared with 26.3% the previous year. 97.6% was the overall pass rate for 2018, down slightly on the 97.9% pass rate from 2017. Nearly 98,000 students took a mathematics A-Level, the year’s most popular subject. The fastest growing A-Level subject was computing, showing a near 25% increase on the previous year.

It’s always useful for landlords either entering or expanding into student accommodation investment to be aware of the trends and changes within student studying as it will provide them with an edge over their competitors. As an example, if you’re aware that computing is the fastest growing subject then it logically follows that you’d consider accommodation at a university with a high quality computing course a good long term investment.

There were some negatives however, with Brexit seemingly having an effect on the rates of students studying foreign languages as a subject, which fell sharply. According to the Guardian roughly 3,000 students took German, a drop of 16% on 2016 and a 45% fall since 2010. French, the most popular modern foreign language, also suffered a sharp drop, considered part of a move by students away from humanities towards the more popular STEM subjects.

Whilst the pass rates were extremely good examiners were quick to point out that pass rates have stayed largely steady since 2012, meaning that exams aren’t getting noticeably easier.

However, concerns have been expressed over the fact that more universities than ever appear to be offering incentives to students in an increasingly competitive market. More than ever are now offering scholarships to students. A low birth rate year hasn’t helped matters, and the Press Association reported that more than 26,000 places were still on offer on Thursday.

Some reports suggested that some universities were offering incentives such as discounts, free pizza and even free iPads.

Nick Hull, head of admissions at the University of Southampton, told the Financial Times: “I suspect there are a lot more universities with more vacancies, it’s quite competitive out there. Universities are fighting in something of a buyers’ market.”

With this in mind it is more important than ever for investors to be ahead of the curve in knowing what types of courses are going to be popular and which institutions offer the best courses in those areas to understand where the demand is likely to land.

It is still true that the red brick universities are always going to be popular, but some are located in crowded markets and for those looking to invest early into emerging markets it makes sense to understand that the likes of computing, maths and biology are increasing in popularity.

Far from the trend about a decade ago for humanities and more philosophical courses, it now appears to be much more relevant for students which courses offer the best route to well-paid careers.

Looking for your next student investment? Have a look at our available properties today.