Students urged to ‘aim higher’

The Government has used the humble mailshot to target everyone from serial criminals to die-hard smokers but now it is planning to mail high-flying state school students to urge them to “aim higher” when applying for universities.
Universities Minister David Willetts wants to send a major direct mail campaign to students who apply for universities ranked below the level that their high GCSE grades and A-level predictions could lead them to expect and encourage them to apply to one of the 13 most competitive universities.
The Sutton Trust, a social mobility charity, claims that up to 5,000 students a year gain the necessary grades but do not apply, due to a combination of factors – from a belief that they will not get in to teachers discouraging them.
Willetts said: “There are people who are getting good GCSEs and good A-levels but at schools that don’t seem to send them to the most competitive universities. I would love to write to these people – in a way that the data protection rules would permit – saying to them, ‘Congratulations, you have done so well, the world is your oyster. Some of our most competitive universities would love to have someone with your qualifications applying to them. Have you thought about it?’”
Meanwhile, university applications service Ucas is also planning to embrace DM techniques by using targeted emails to promote universities, rather than rely on applicants finding them themselves.
According to reports, Ucas wants to target teenagers with material relating to specific courses which students with their grades and subject combinations usually apply.

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