Imperial College London has become one of thirteen universities to reject their share of 10,000 "emergency" university places offered to them by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The government has been forced to make a dramatic u-turn on its decision to cap the number of places for new students this year, as economic turmoil has seemingly led to a 10% rise in university applications.
Seven-hundred of the new places were offered to Russell Group institutions, however eleven of these universities have rejected their allocation. Six other universities have requested a lower number of places than their allocation.
The extra places were given to universities based upon their current allocation, with establishments that encouraged "wider participation" being favoured. Manchester Metropolitan University was awarded the record 341 extra places, whilst Kingston University was offered 248.
The new agreement includes money for grants and loans for the new students, however universities will not be receiving any extra funding for accepting the extra students. This is one factor which has undoubtedly deterred several universities; especially those such as Imperial, who are already likely to have no additional accommodation.
The universities that have declined the offer are Bristol, Cambridge, Exeter, Imperial College London, King's College London, Leeds, Liverpool, London Metropolitan University, Nottingham, Oxford, Southampton, University College London and Warwick. The University of Leeds declined the highest number of extra places; 248 in total.
HEFCE has said that "to assure maximum take-up of the places, we informally approached institutions with a large initial share to see if they were able to take these up. For a variety of reasons, a number of institutions indicated that they cannot take up their share and have asked that their additional places be re-distributed so that they are available elsewhere. We have already distributed these numbers pro rata across the sector."