Universities offer laptops and other perks to lure students

Many British universities are offering financial and material incentives to entice prospective students in a bid to compete in the emerging student recruitment market.

As universities prepare for the end to quotas restricting the number of students they can admit, the competition to attract the most talented candidates has become increasingly fierce. From September 2015, institutions will be able to admit an unrestricted number of students achieving grades of ABB and above at A-level, leading some to offer a variety of incentives to prospective students.

For the most part, these enticements take the form of financial funding, something of interest to many prospective undergraduates facing maximum tuition fees of £9,000 per year.

One such incentive is offered by City University.  Students with minimum results of ABB can expect a scholarship of £3,000 per year, providing they select the university as their first choice. Similar offers are available at Royal Holloway, University of London, where students achieving grades of three A’s or more are potentially granted scholarships worth £3,000.

Many universities are now also going beyond financial rewards, as certain institutions choose to offer laptops and other materials. Media students at Coventry University, for instance, are allowed to borrow all the necessary technology for their course, which is then gifted to them upon the fulfilment of their academic obligations.

Unconditional offers are also available to the highest achieving applicants, strictly on the condition that they fully commit to the university by setting it as their first choice. This is the policy under which operate the universities of Birmingham and Nottingham, eager to entice talent away from the higher ranked institutions with the safety of an assured spot.

In order to keep up with the competition, cash and laptops are not the only things on offer. Queens University Belfast is one of those to get more inventive with their enticements, proposing high-achieving UK students a range of incentives worth up to £2,500, including paid flights home, a free sports membership and cinema pass as well as an upgrade to ensuite accommodation.

Speaking to The Student, some University of Edinburgh students admitted that such incentives would impact their final choice. Laura Wilson, a second year Psychology student, explained that “it wouldn’t be the only factor I would look at” but that “I’m sure it would have an influence on my decision”.

Similarly, second year Social Anthropology and Politics student Hannah Markay stated that if the University of Edinburgh had offered financial incentives, it “would have given me yet another reason to list it as my first choice”.

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