Arts places pulled from clearing process: Universities warn that courses are full

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The Independent Online
TEN former polytechnics have warned that they intend to pull arts and social science courses out of this year's clearing process for university places.

Among the universities which say they are completely full in most of these subjects are Kingston, Plymouth, Hertfordshire, Staffordshire, Westminster, Manchester Metropolitan and Nottingham Trent.

Liverpool John Moores University, Leeds Metropolitan University and the University of Central England in Birmingham will offer clearing places in a limited number of arts subjects.

They have given advance warning to the Polytechnics Central Admissions System, PCAS, which oversees the process of matching up students with spare places for new universities, that things will be tight this year.

The fee paid by the Government to universities for each student was cut last winter from pounds 1,850 to pounds 1,300, forcing them to cancel expansion plans.

Conditional offers had already been made before the cut was disclosed, and record A-level results to be announced tomorrow will leave many departments with more successful candidates than they can afford to take. They must honour their offers because not to do so would be in breach of contract, but students who drop one grade may not get a place.

The new universities are the hardest-hit because they had the biggest expansion plans, but old universities are also expected to be affected. They have not yet notified their clearing agency, the Universities' Central Council on Admissions, of their intentions.

The University of Kingston says it needs to cut its arts and social science places by 20 per cent, and its admissions officers do not expect to take part in clearing at all for these subjects. A spokeswoman said the university had planned to take 800 arts and social science students this year, but had reduced the figure to 640 after the fee cut was announced. However, because offers were based on the higher figure, it would probably be forced to take at least 750 students.

'Because the decision came late in the day, we cut back on our target but we had already made conditional offers. The number of places we will be able to cut will be in the tens rather than in the hundreds,' she said.

At Nottingham Trent University, almost 2,800 offers have been made for just 460 places on humanities courses, and 244 of them are not conditional on A-level results.

George Smith, faculty administrator for humanities, said that all the students who achieved their grades would be accepted. 'It is going to be a bit tighter than we had expected, so we can't take many in clearing,' he said.