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York University faces £500,000 fine after exceeding student numbers

York may face huge financial loss after it over-recruited students this year

The University of York is facing a fine of over half a million pounds, after it enrolled too many students this year.

Under the Higher Education Funding for England (HEFCE) guidelines, York has exceeded the nationally set limit of students by 67, which could result in a 'grant reduction' of £536,000.

A spokesperson for the university defended the decision to take more students on, claiming that it would not be adversely affected by any fine.

“This will be more than outweighed by the additional fee income and teaching grant which the university will receive.”

Confirming that York did expect to exceed its student numbers, the spokesperson commented on the ‘very challenging’ task of recruiting the correct number of students.

HEFCE guidelines control the number of students a higher educational institution can accept, and while universities can admit an unlimited number of students with AAB or more in their A-levels, institutions are penalised should they exceed the number of ‘core’ students they recruit.

Under present HEFCE guidelines, York has exceeded its student number control of 923 'full-time equivalent' students for 2013-14 by 67. This means, under last year's rules, they're set to be fined £8,000 per additional student.

All higher educational institutions are aware of these limits, according to a spokesperson for HEFCE, which were implemented to protect teaching standards.

However, the HEFCE spokesperson was unable to comment on whether York would face a fine, as the organisation did not yet have access to individual institutions' admissions details.

York's spokesperson expects the number of students to fall before term starts at the end of September.

The number of successful admissions will be submitted to HEFCE when they carry out a survey of student numbers later this year, with the data then signed off in January 2014 and published in March of next year.

Fines are relatively rare for top universities. In 2012 nine institutions were fined for over-recruiting – with only one Russell Group university, Sheffield, on the list.