BLOG: Kent College Pembury on ‘thinking ahead’

Pam Mills

By Julie Lodrick, Headmistress of Kent College Pembury

I had breakfast with a group of Sixth Form students this morning and forefront in their minds is the stress of preparing and submitting their UCAS applications, coupled with concerns about the debt that will accrue during their time as an undergraduate.

We reflected on a recent feature on the Today Programme, which looked at the options for student accommodation on the two university campuses in Newcastle, ranging from £10k for the self-catered penthouse, to £5k for a more modest room with meals provided.

The associated costs seem to be an accepted consequence of securing a degree. And it doesn’t stop there as many student feel that in order to break into the career of their choice, they need to also take a Masters degree.

High class (and unfortunately more expensive) accommodation is just one way universities have been trying to attract students. There has been some talk in the newspapers this week about the dangers of unconditional offers – in which universities promise places with no demands on A-Level performance.

On the face of it this could seem very tempting, particularly as the new A-levels have brought with them a new degree of challenge and stress for today’s students. However, there is also a strong suggestion that students can “take their foot off the A–level pedal” when freed from the need to meet an offer.

The argument holds that these students are then left at a considerable disadvantage further down the line, when employers examine their results.

From our experience, this is not a clear cut issue. Some girls do better if they have something to strive for, others flourish when they can purely focus on their studies, without the complication of university demands. As with all things in education, it is recognising that every learner is an individual that really counts.

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