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Government Orders Universities to take on Fewer Students

Jan 23 2009 17:28
Lawrence Weetman
The Government has told Universities to recruit fewer students for the next academic year in order to cut grant costs, with a threat of penalties to Universities who over-subscribe.
With huge levels of unemployment and cuts in new student numbers, what else is there to do?

Labour's Universities Secretary, John Denham, has used his annual grant letter to HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) to inform Universities of caps that will be placed on the number of new students in the 2009-2010 session.

This follows the admission by The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills that the government had underestimated the number of students who would be eligible for student loans and grants, leaving a huge budget short-fall. In the letter, Mr Denham confirmed that the number of additional university places next year would be cut from 15,000 to 10,000 - dashing any hope of Labour acheiving their target of having 50% of young people attending university by 2010. The proposed budget for universities for the 2009-2010 session will be cut by £19million in-line with the reductions.

The higher education sector needs an equitable and sustainable funding system that recognises huge demand and ensures that even more people have the opportunity to benefit from new skills.
Wes Streeting, NUS President

The letter also said that the time had come for universities to use their time and resources to help businesses and the unemployed, after years of investment from the business sector. It was suggested that universities should offer "practical help" to those who need it most during these tough economic times. Universities are also expected to tackle the issue of climate change, with the "greenest" universities being rewarded during budgeting.

Mr Denham continued by saying that universities should not make provisions for an increase of students for the 2010-2011 session, until a review of the situation has been carried out. The move will be a blow to both first and second year A-Level and Diploma students, who will now face increased competition over university places.

We cannot hope to emerge from the recession in a competitive state until there is a clearer strategy for higher-level skills.
David Willets, Shadow Universities Secretary

The move has faced opposition by many, including the Conservative Party. Diana Warwick, of Universities UK, said that high levels of UCAS applications in recent years show that there is a huge demand for higher education, adding that, "there is a danger in placing limits on growth ? UUK believes strongly that the UK's knowledge-based economy needs more, not fewer, graduates ? and we urge the government to discuss the impact of this and future decisions with the sector."

HEFCE is now working on a package of grants to offer to struggling institutions, with universities expected to match any funding requests. It is expected that this funding will be provided to help universities set up new projects.

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Discussion about “Government Orders Universities to take on Fewer Students”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. Ian   
Jan 23 2009 18:32

Can the title and first paragraph be changed to read 'fewer' instead of 'less' students?

Jan 23 2009 20:04

ditto! This is a pet peeve of mine :D

Jan 23 2009 20:52

Just checking that you were paying attention. :-)

4. si   
Jan 24 2009 16:44

Is Diane Warwick high "UUK believes strongly that the UK's knowledge-based economy needs more, not fewer, graduates".

From live

"less places are available within the major graduate recruiters, many companies have narrowed their search for graduates to those from only five leading universities".

Hopefully this cut in funding of places will not affect the Russell Group universities, accuse me of elitism if you like, but our "knowledged based economy" needs quality not quantity.

Limiting funding of home and EU students to top UK universities will only encourage the trend to seek the best student from further afield, students who then tend to take their education (and its econominc benifits) back to their home countries.

rant over

Jan 24 2009 18:13

"our "knowledged based economy" needs quality not quantity"

I think you're missing the point of a 'knowledge economy'. This isn't about world leading research our frightfully clever financial derivatives. It's about addressing the collapse of traditional manufacturing and low skilled jobs. Britain can no longer compete with emerging economies in manufacturing, or migrant labour in low paid jobs.

In this context the contribution of the Russell Group is negligible. Of course, this isn't an argument for increasing the number of students studying for traditional degrees. What is needed is a more general up-skilling of the workforce.

Rant over.

Jan 25 2009 02:29

So, to Social Economist:

How does a more general up-skilling of the workforce help Britiain to compete with emerging economies or migrant labour? Emerging economies offer manufacturing at a fraction of the cost of British manufacturing - up-skilling the workforce in this context only increases the wage costs of having things produced in Britian. And migrants taking low paid jobs? Again, having more skilled workers who desire higher wages or better work will naturally lead to gap openings for those willing to take low paid jobs.

No rant over.

7. HA!   
Jan 25 2009 05:00

All I want to know is when can I find a job where I'm not working at 5am and getting c**p all salary!

8. @Ha!   
Jan 25 2009 10:17

Become a politician

9. Linz   
Jan 20 2010 12:10

I frankly think this is disgusting. I'm 17 and have straight A's and A stars all the way and because all these stupid regulations have been passed I have been refused from two unis already with the only reason being that I don't fit into their quota for numbers. It's appalling. Surely the government will end up paying more in unemployment benefits? Stupid, stupid men. I hope someone tells them that they can't afford them, cuts their cushy jobs and sits them on a street corner in the real world.

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