200,000 'to miss out on university place'

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The Independent Online

Universities learnt details of swingeing budget cuts today as a top academic warned that hundreds of thousands of students will miss out on degree course places.

Students will face an intense scramble for places and the cuts could impact on the quality of teaching at England's universities, Professor Steve Smith, president of vice-chancellors' group Universities UK (UUK), predicted.

The sector's funding body, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), this afternoon announced that budgets are to be cut by £449 million for 2010/11.

This includes:

* A 1.6 per cent reduction (£215 million) in teaching funding;

* Research budgets will remain the same as last year;

* A 16.9 per cent cut in capital funding;

* A 7 per cent reduction for funding of special programmes and initiatives.

In a letter to vice-chancellors setting out the budgets, HEFCE said it recognised that the reductions will be "challenging" to institutions.

Earlier today, Professor Smith, who is also vice-chancellor of Exeter University, told BBC News 24 that as many as 200,000 students could miss out on places this autumn.

He said: "There's going to be well over 200,000 that don't get them (places) this year."