The Government announced last night that university student numbers would be slashed by 15,000 this autumn.
Academics warned last night the move would "dash the aspirations and ambitions of many well-qualified applicants". The Government is also cutting funding for teaching in universities this year by £830m – 18 per cent.
The cuts were detailed in a letter to higher-education spending watchdogs from the Business Secretary Vince Cable and Universities minister David Willetts yesterday.
The Government is withdrawing 10,000 extra places allocated last year to cope with an unprecedented rise in applications. And the Higher Education Funding Council for England has been told to control student numbers by removing 5,000 extra places used as a safety net to aid universities that over-recruit.
"The reduction in the total number of student places available in 2012-13 is likely to dash the aspirations and ambitions of many well-qualified applicants," Pam Tatlow, of million+, a university think tank, said.