Redbridge College students in increasing demand from top universities

More Redbridge College students than ever before have been offered places at top-flight universities, despite unprecedented demand on the applications process.

Careers manager Martina Greeves told the Recorder that the clamour for places ahead of next year’s tuition fee rise has helped her National Diploma students, as pressured admissions tutors are increasingly favouring the practical experience offered by vocational courses like those at the college.

In December further education admissions service UCAS announced that their applications were up by 10 per cent from the previous year and warned that some 230,000 young people could be disappointed by missing out on their first choice university place.

Miss Greeves said: “The national picture is actually helping us. As so many people are applying they have to use secondary criteria and they are starting to see the value of practical experience.

“What is remarkable is that we have seen more and more students offered places at prestigious establishments, like King’s College and University College London (UCL).”

The trend at Redbridge College in Barley Lane, Little Heath hints that access to top universities and colleges is finally changing.

Daanish Baig is a 20-year-old BTEC business student with an the offer of a place at University College London to read information and business management and through the college has secured an internship with bank Credit Swiss based in Canary Wharf.

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He said: “Neither my Mum or Dad went to University so I am the first person in the family to go to university along with my sister. Our parents are really supportive.”

He added: “I had been knocked back from other unis but after I applied to UCL they offered me a place within two weeks. I think that they were looking for people with practical experience like I have got from my course and my work placement.”

Much of the pressure on college places has been created by students foregoing their chance of a gap year to avoid increased tuition fees which will rise in the UK to as much as �9,000 per year from September 2012.

IT student Anas Ather, 18, from Ilford has been offered a place to study software engineering at Kings College and at City University, but missed out on an offer from Imperial College.

Mr Ather said: “I was going to defer my application for a year but the rise in fees means that I can’t take a year out to sit my A-level maths which they need at Imperial College - which does make me angry.”

Martina Greeves added: “We have been aiming to raise our students aspirations towards universities and this is working. But more needs to be done to make students aware of the bursaries and grants on offer to them.”