Go back

Grant letter fudges decisions, say universities

The delayed grant letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England has failed to answer important questions about postgraduate study and student number control, the 1994 group of universities has said.

“Instead we have been hit with tough rhetoric on how the government will clamp down on universities if they take on students that exceed centrally allocated numbers. To add insult to injury, 5,000 student places will be cut,” said a spokesperson for the group.

“The uncertainty over undergraduate numbers and funding for postgraduate teaching and research is causing major problems for UK higher education. The government has to offer reassurance that talented students will not be denied places at excellent universities,” the spokesperson added.

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the university group Million+, said that although she welcomes the government’s commitment to monitor the impact of the AAB student market, there should have been a “firm decision to pause the extension of this market and allow a full and proper assessment of the 2012 changes to be made.

“The likely outcome of these changes will be to privilege a sub-section of students,” she added. “Regardless of what decision is eventually made, the reduction in the total number of student places available in 2012-13 by 15,000 is likely to dash the aspirations and ambitions of many well-qualified applicants.”

The University and College Union has described the government’s funding plans as a “dangerous experiment” and “disastrous” for the UK’s academic reputation.

“Our universities are globally-renowned, yet the government’s plans put that proud standing at risk. For all the talk of empowering students under a new market system, they will ultimately have less choice as fewer courses will be on offer,” said UCU general secretary Sally Hunt, in a statement.

“This is an ideological move that will not save the country money, because millions of pounds will have to be pumped into the loans system so students can borrow money to fund their courses,” she added.