Expensive universities to lose student places

Even Oxford and Cambridge will lose students as ministers free up 20,000 places at cheaper universities

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The Independent Online

Even the country's top universities face cuts in student numbers as a result of the Government's funding shake-up. Members of the Russell Group – which represents 20 of the top higher education research institutions, could lose up to 3,200 places, according to an analysis by House of Commons researchers for the Labour party.

Under the Government's funding shake-up, ministers intend to "free up" 20,000 student places for those universities charging less than £7,500 a year under the new regime. These places will then be removed from the core funding for all universities – so even Oxford and Cambridge would lose some funding.

However, the elite universities would almost certainly be able to make up any shortfall as a result of the second strand of the Government's package – which would allow universities to compete for the estimated 65,000 students with at least A,A,B passes at A-level and even expand their numbers if they can attract more students.

The House of Commons analysis shows that Oxford and Cambridge could lose up to 50 places. Other Russell Group universities, such as Manchester and Leeds could lose up to 300 places. The biggest losers would be Manchester Metropolitan, with up to 550 places under threat.

Kingston and Sheffield Hallam, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's local university, would lose up to 450.