University offers £10,000 for students to defer
Student landlords may be facing growing numbers of students wanting to defer this year with one university offering a £10,000 cash incentive to do so.
There's also the prospect that 100,000 international students currently living in ‘red list’ countries will not be allowed to travel to the UK - or there may not be enough hotel quarantine capacity for dealing with such a large number.
Now the University of Exeter is offering its medical students £10,000 to defer entry this year, to 2022/23.
Exeter is also offering one year of free accommodation as an added incentive, as they face a surge in student applications.
Accommodation for students
Accommodation for students in the university’s Rowancroft building will normally cost students £6,574 for an ensuite room, or for a studio flat, £7,611.
Along with a strong surge in applications, universities are also facing uncertainty over this year's A-level grade inflation.
The University of Exeter says there has been a big rise in the number of candidates wanting to study medicine who have made Exeter their first choice, but their medical student numbers are capped by the government.
The University has now written to candidates they have accepted in a bid to get them to delay until next year.
Medicine student numbers
The University's deputy vice chancellor, Prof Mark Goodwin, said: "Medicine student numbers have been set by the government to ensure we can accommodate them in a way that provides high-quality education as well as a stimulating student experience.
"We are offering options, including deferral, financial incentives or to study a postgraduate programme, prior to students starting medical studies next year."
The move by Exeter to offer a deferral comes as universities across the UK say they are receiving record numbers of student applications.
They say that applications from 18-year-olds are already up 10% on last year's figures.
Admissions officers say that the number of students wanting to study medicine has risen by 20% on 2020’s figure.
The officers say they are also worried about grade inflation because exams have been cancelled and teacher-assessed grades are being used instead - which could see more students achieving the required grades.
Expand the number of places for students
The chief executive of the Russell Group of universities, Dr Tim Bradshaw, says now is the time for the government to expand the number of places for students to study medicine this year.
He said: "There is a significant increase in applications and the uncertainty that is generated with the introduction of teacher-assessed grades means it's harder for universities to judge the right number of offers they should make.
"This is the case for medicine, particularly, where place numbers are capped by the government."
The move by Exeter University could well be followed by other higher institutions and university leaders say they are gearing up for a hectic A-level results day.
International student ‘timebomb’
Student landlords also face the prospect of an international student ‘timebomb’ with 100,000 students due to start their university courses in the autumn.
However, it is unclear whether the UK has enough hotel quarantine capacity for such a large number.
One of the issues is the cost of a hotel quarantine with international students having to pay £1,750 to stay 10 days in a government-approved quarantine hotel.
But because the hotel quarantine system will come under strain, Universities UK International believes many of those students will either defer until January or September next year or drop out of their course altogether.
A spokesman for the National Indian Students Union UK said that 55,000 Indian students are planning to come to the country in September.
The spokesman told one newspaper that there's little chance of India being removed from the ‘red list’ of countries soon and there aren't enough hotels to cater for such a large intake of students.
Students to quarantine from red list countries
However, some universities in Scotland say they will allow students to quarantine from red list countries on the campus - but a pilot test needs to be carried out first.
In addition, of the 130 universities in the UK, just 17 have offered to help international students with the cost of their hotel quarantine.
The managing director of Accommodation for Students, Simon Thompson, said: "After all of the problems brought by the pandemic, student landlords are still facing potential issues with restrictions and deferment this year and the prospect of international students deferring or dropping their course.
"We have been calling consistently for the government to step in and help landlords in the UK in these trying times and we need student landlords to be reassured that they are not