Director's blog

​​​Director's Blog, January 2020

We wish you a fantastic New Year and hope you have had a restful Christmas break.

I'd like to introduce myself as the new Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions at the University of Gloucestershire. I previously held similar roles at Aston and Buckingham Universities over the last 20 years (and in the North of England before that) and am a member of the UCAS Qualifications Advisory Group and Cambridge Assessment/OCR admissions group amongst others.

I am incredibly proud to be here at Gloucestershire with our green, high spec, safe campuses in Cheltenham and Gloucester, commitment to student experience and teaching excellence. There is real quality here, demonstrated by a high level of student satisfaction, performance and retention along with an award winning commitment to sustainability and environmental awareness.

We are ranked 1st in the UK for sustainability in the latest People and Planet Green league, as featured in the Guardian. Accommodation is guaranteed for all first years who want it, including local students. The Your Future Plan team at the university run an innovative and supportive programme of events and interventions, to support the success and progression of our students who come from all over the UK and beyond.

It's the perfect university on a human scale, with around 10,000 full time students.

With continuous change in the Higher Education sector and at the university, I would like to provide you with regular pertinent updates throughout the academic year, to keep you abreast and support you in your role.

Key updates to start the year include:

  • Reflections on the UCAS cycle for 2019 and predictions for 2020;
  • UUK consultation on the future of admissions – call for evidence;
  • 1st July 2020 – Teachers and Advisers' Conference: Park campus, Cheltenham.​

UCAS applications 2020 and reflections on the 2019 cycle

Early indications from UCAS data suggest a further increase in interest for courses with the early 15th October deadline, with a 4% increase on last year. Medicine and Dentistry are up, which normally has a positive impact on allied health subjects too. We have experienced a significant increase in Nursing, Physiotherapy and related applications at Gloucestershire. Students seem to be more confident in their choices this year. A UCAS embargo prevents us from publishing early application data until after the 15th Jan deadline. However, I predict a small decrease in applications this year, reflecting the demographic dip, but with an increase from outside the EU and a spike in applications after the election as we move to the 15th Jan initial deadline.

I am concerned that applications for Arts and Humanities subjects will be down again this year, similar to the drop in A level and BTEC entries in these subjects in recent years. English Language and Literature A levels are good examples. Gloucestershire is bucking the trend, with our media, digital and creative subjects enjoying strong increases in enrolments this year and applications holding steady. We welcome your views about this issue via

We want to continue to support schools and colleges in promoting a balanced post-16 and GCSE subject choice amongst students, to reflect the fact that the global economy (and the UK in particular) demands general, human skills as well as specialist STEM knowledge. The importance of choosing a subject that ignites passion, enjoyment and exploration is more important than ever.

The UK is the envy of the world in the creative arts, publishing and media industries and the excellent career progression of our students here in Cheltenham reflects this. Find out more about our outreach offer in these areas at

The 2019 entry UCAS end of cycle report also confirms that students are more likely to receive an offer, with record numbers of enrolments and acceptance rates. The intake across the UK this year is more inclusive, more global and more supported than ever, with record offer rates and 8 years of sustained investment in facilities and student experience. We notice this here at Gloucestershire too.

The Future of Admissions

The Universities UK (UUK) organisation has launched a call for evidence this term on the future of admissions to UK University – teachers and advisers are encouraged to take part. The initial deadline has passed but colleagues are still welcome to contribute during early January according to my sources at UUK – the link is here. I note too that university offer making (unconditional, contextual, conditional, unconditional) continues to be on the news and government agenda this month. Please get in touch with my team or I regarding our admissions and selection policies at Gloucestershire. We are keen to hear your views on behalf of your students and their supporters.

Teachers and Advisers' Conference

These and many other issues will be covered at our annual Teachers and Advisers' Conference on Wed 1st July 2020 here on campus in Cheltenham. We have a mix of external speakers and contributors including UCAS and admissions/guidance professionals from across the sector. Places are free and the outline of the programme and booking form are here.

Our outreach pages also list a number of other events and activities for students of all ages and a list of key contacts. We look forward to welcoming you and your students this year. My team will also be attending UCAS and other fairs/exhibitions during 2020 and we encourage you to book places on those events too, via the UCAS website.

Best wishes again for the rest of the UCAS cycle and keep in touch.

James Seymour

DIRECTOR of communications, marketing and student recruitment

James Seymour

James has held Director of Admissions and Student Recruitment roles at Buckingham and Aston Universities and before that, worked in education/schools liaison roles at the universities of Sheffield, Leeds, and Northumbria during the 1990s. 

James is a regular speaker at national and regional conferences, on HE guidance, admissions policy, and curriculum reform. James is a member of the UCAS Qualifications Advisory Group and a Secondary School Governor. James is also a member of the HE Forum for the Cambridge Assessment/OCR Examination Board, and on the editorial group of The Complete University Guide. 

James has a degree in politics from The University of Sheffield and a master’s in management from Aston Business School, Aston University. His master’s research project focused on student decision-making and UCAS choices.

Get in touch with james by email:​