Oxford considers plans to cut UK student numbers

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The Independent Online

Fewer British undergraduates will be able to study at Oxford University under controversial proposals to tackle the institution's funding crisis by reserving more places for foreign students.

Fewer British undergraduates will be able to study at Oxford University under controversial proposals to tackle the institution's funding crisis by reserving more places for foreign students.

Experts have warned that the introduction of tuition fees of up to £3,000 a year from 2006 will not be enough to solve the deepening funding crisis in the UK's elite universities.

But Oxford yesterday confirmed that it was consulting on plans to increase the number of overseas undergraduates, who pay higher fees, while freezing the total number of undergraduate places, thus cutting the number of places available to UK school leavers.

Last month the first comprehensive analysis of Oxford's finances revealed that the university faced a £14m deficit on the cost of educating undergraduates by 2012 even if it charged the maximum £3,000 fee allowed by the Government.

The study, by an Oxford-based think-tank, proposed that Oxford should be allowed to charge undergraduates from wealthy backgrounds fees of more than £10,000 a year. It warned that without this extra income Oxford would be forced to recruit more postgraduate students or more overseas undergraduates.

The report warned that 600 British school leavers could be denied places at Oxford by 2008, rising to 1,400 by 2020.

Oxford confirmed that it was considering changing its recruitment strategy in an attempt to improve its financial position. A spokeswoman said: "It is a suggestion which has been approved by the university council to be consulted on."

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