Universities in crisis as student numbers fall
Colleges that have offered most to poorer students will be biggest losers as impact of fees bites
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Thursday 29 March 2012
More than 30 universities are facing a 10 per cent fall in student numbers this autumn, according to figures released today.
A breakdown of next year's university budgets shows that middle-ranking universities and former polytechnics will suffer as a result of the new funding system, which will see tuition fees rise to up to £9,000 a year.
Worst hit, according to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, will be the University of East London and the University of Bedfordshire, which are likely to suffer falls of 12 per cent. In all, 34 universities in England will have their student numbers cut by at least 10 per cent. HEFCE estimates there will be 10,900 fewer student places across the country. Academics said it was universities who had done the most to open themselves up to disadvantaged groups that appeared to be suffering the worst cuts.
By contrast, most of the members of the Russell Group – which represents most of the country's leading research institutions – are set to expand student numbers. Michael Driscoll, chairman of the million+ university think tank and vice-chancellor of Middlesex University, said the overwhelming majority of institutions were losing student places.
"These allocations show the true extent of the Coalition's reform of fees and funding and the cutback in the overall number of university places being funded," he said.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, added: "At a time when record numbers of people are out of work, the Government should be making it easier for people to access education."
Although overall student numbers have been cut, under the new system universities can recruit beyond their fixed target so long as they take in students with at least two As and a B at A-level. In addition, 20,000 places have been set aside for higher education providers charging less than £7,500 a year.
As a result, elite universities with a higher percentage of AAB students tend to benefit, as do further education colleges charging lower fees. An extra 65 such colleges are receiving funding for higher education degrees for the first time.
According to HEFCE, just over 10,000 of the 20,000 places for low charging universities have gone to further education colleges. The shake-up appears to have created a "squeezed middle" among universities, which are unlikely to recruit large numbers of AAB students but are still charging higher fees.
Sir Alan Langlands, chief executive of HEFCE, said he did not believe the changes would see universities "going into substantial financial problems". "All of these can cope with this level of reduction," he added. He said they were all "confident they can ride it out".
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder
- 1 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...
£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...
£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...
£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...