The University made 4,500 offers for 3,450 places last yearLucas Maddalena

Offer-holders may be asked to “transfer Colleges or defer their places” until October 2022 under a new “over-subscription” clause as a result of an excess number of students passing the entrance criteria, a University spokesperson told Varsity.

The spokesperson noted that this eventuality was “unlikely,” and added that “we would like to reassure students that we will do our utmost to ensure that all who meet the terms of their offer are admitted to the University this year.”

This comes after the University made 4,500 offers for 3,450 places in the 2019/20 admissions cycle following teacher assessment of A-level grades last year as a result of the pandemic.

Last year, students were given centre-assessed grades (CAGs) by their schools or colleges, which then underwent a standardisation process, which saw many students’ grades reduced, leading them to miss University offers. The subsequent “u-turn” meant that students received their CAGs as their final grades.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, told Varsity that this is “really difficult issue” and expressed  “some sympathy” with the University: “Cambridge has had been able to predict [examination results] with a pretty certain level of accuracy…[but] at the moment Cambridge is just at the mercy of outside forces” due to uncertainty around this year’s A-Level examinations.

He added that this issue was in part due to the “tightly restricted number of places to go round”, and that the University should be “quite a lot bigger” in order to accept more students. 

In a statement published in August, the University stated that students’ places would be confirmed for October 2021 in several circumstances: if an appeal is successful and decided “before our spaces are completely full”; if there is a successful appeal that was “too late” for October 2020 entry, and if the Autumn examinations allowed a student to meet the original conditions of their offer.


Mountain View

As it happened: Cambridge responds to A-level results day ‘fiasco’

A spokesperson for the University told The Times: “We are trying to ensure students are aware of their options should we be faced with similar pressure on places. This is about planning for the most exceptional circumstances and offering the student the best information to help inform their choices.”

Meanwhile a spokesperson for UCAS said that there is an expectation for universities “to have an open and transparent conversation with students about their options” in the case of over-subscription, saying that “the decision ultimately [lies] with the student.”

This article was updated at 15:58 upon receiving further information from the University with regard to possible outcomes for offer-holders if places are oversubscribed.