Top Universities Expected to Take 35,000 More Students
The government has effectively raised the amount of legal places that universities will be allowed to offer annually to high-achieving prospective applicants to university courses starting in September 2013 and onwards by 35,000.
by Ross Moody
Thursday 3rd May 2012, 11:08 BST
The figure is not actually a quota, but rather the number of places that will be opened up based on new rules regarding A-level results. Universities will be allowed to offer an unlimited number of places to applicants who have achieved at least one A grade and two B grades at A-level.
The change will be followed by a further allowance for unlimited places to students achieving two A grades and one B grade at A-level, which will take effect for university courses starting this autumn. That move is expected to affect 85,000 further students.
Elite universities appeared to welcome the move, which were announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in an online statement last Friday, 27 April. Wendy Piatt, the director general of the Russell Group, emphasized that the plans would "allow universities with high demand from highly qualified candidates to accept extra students if they wish and protect them from cuts in their student numbers," in a statement on the Group's website last Friday.
Meanwhile, the main lecturer's union criticized the plans as myopic. In a statement given to The Telegraph, Sally Hunt, director-general of the University and College Union, said:
"It seems very premature for the government to extend its AAB policy when we have yet to see the impact of it. This looks like the triumph of ideology over evidence based policy-making."
In addition to this move comes the announcement of a policy targeted at lower-tier universities, with a promise to allocate 5,000 additional legal places to those universities that keep yearly tuition fees below £8,250 per year. This has been interpreted as a sort of consolation for the allowed rise in fees that will take effect starting this September and are expected to affect primarily middle-income, mid-ranking "core" students, according to The Guardian.