Bradford University Recruitment Policy Bad for the City?

It will not have escaped members’ attention that the University is currently struggling to recruit students on to its taught programmes.

There are those that would argue that this is simply because the courses offered are not what prospective students want, or that the standards of some courses are simply not good enough.

Some of this may be true, but the University has already conceded that raising the entry tariff requirement would have a detrimental effect on recruitment, and claimed that this was factored in to its financial planning.

Whilst it got that right in principle, the truth has proved to be much worse than was anticipated, both in terms of magnitude and duration.   A failure to reach targets year on year continued into the last recruitment round; how long can this be sustained?

UCU believes that the conscious decision to raise tariff and the subsequent loss of income has led the BEP initiative into a crisis management phase, where cost cutting is the primary objective.   Job cuts are the inevitable consequence.

Bradford University had a proud reputation for widening participation in Higher Education and was not long ago considered an exemplar in this respect.   Such an approach inevitably made for challenges in respect of satisfactory outcomes; it was though (and remains) a commendable aspiration to assist those from disadvantaged backgrounds in this way.

The city of Bradford has many issued, not least of which is the extent of child poverty in the district.   Bradford also performs poorly at Primary and Secondary level, which of course means that output at A-Level is equally disadvantageous.   The University is therefore in danger of offering courses with entry requirements that are simply not achievable by the majority of the A Level students of Bradford.   So much for community facing!

Further, a reduction in student numbers can only exacerbate the problems being faced by the business community in the vicinity of the University and College.   Less staff and students means less demand for accommodation, food, provisions, entertainment etc. all of which local businesses depend upon.

All this in the week that the University of Bristol has announced tariff concessions for those from disadvantaged backgrounds to encourage social mobility through widening participation.


1 thought on “Bradford University Recruitment Policy Bad for the City?

  1. I’m sorry but I really disagree.

    For years we were stuck in a spiral of slipping down the league tables, causing lower applications, resulting in us dropping our tariffs to keep our numbers up, leading to lower league table rankings. It would eventually lead to a situation where we were competing with the college – the restructuring required to make us fit for purpose for that would be far more brutal.

    I agree with the strategy of upping the tariff and focusing on offering + excellence – if it has impacted numbers worse than expected perhaps it should have been slower but that’s with the benefit of hindsight. The blog makes it sound like we risk not getting any local students when the reality is the vast majority of our current students are still local and unlikely to change any time soon. Strategically we need more of a mix of local, national and international to keep the University sustainable. Increased competition means over reliance on just one market will make us very vulnerable e.g. a local private college offering degrees could appear. The city needs a sustainable University.

    As for local businesses, if we become more attractive at a national and international level it will bring more money into the Bradford economy rather than just moving it around the city.

    There’s money awarded to Universities for widening participation, I might be wrong but that’s probably why Bristol is doing what its done. We more than meet the targets for that and do other great work such as our University Sanctuary project.

    I think arguing for a pause in the upping of the tariff until we start to feel the benefits of the work to date in student recruitment is a better approach – if the numbers are bad, SMT must be considering it anyway.


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