Some of the UK’s leading universities offered students as much as £15,000 in cash last year to get them to defer their places.
Research shows almost £9million was paid collectively by nine of the 24 elite institutions of the Russell Group, suggesting the overall figure could be even higher.
Places in the group, which includes Oxford and Cambridge, fill up quickly. But some accepted too many students as the number getting A and A* grades rose due to lenient A-level marking in the pandemic.
Manchester University paid a total of £195,000 in cash to students they asked to defer their study by a year
Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Durham, Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and University College London offered a mixture of cash and accommodation discounts. Leeds paid £10,000 to 275 students and offered to waive first-year accommodation costs. Durham gave 209 students £5,000 each, while 11 dentistry students at Cardiff got £15,000 and free first-year accommodation.
At Birmingham University 23 medical students got £10,000 each to defer their place
Manchester University paid a total of £195,000 in cash, while 23 medical students at Birmingham got £10,000 each. The scale of the incentives was revealed via Freedom of Information requests by The Sunday Telegraph, with almost 800 students paid to delay their entry to 2022.
Matt Western, Labour’s universities spokesman, said it illustrated the ‘chaotic’ approach to exams during Covid.
He added: ‘The buck stops with the Government.’
A spokesman for the Russell Group said that the ‘voluntary deferrals’ were ‘often for courses capped by the Government’.