Government’s student places proposals do not go far enough, warns leading universities group

Posted by pt91 at Sep 20, 2011 12:23 PM |
Press release from 1994 Group

Issued by 1994 Group on 20 September 2011

The 1994 Group of leading research universities are today warning the Government that plans proposed in the Higher Education White Paper are not enough to establish a system led by student-demand.

In their response to the White Paper consultation, which closes today (Tuesday), the 1994 Group argues that plans to lift the cap on students with grades higher than AAB at A Level, and for institutions charging fees lower than £7,500, may not create the responsive, demand led market in higher education.

The 1994 Group argue that the proposals will mean:

· High quality university places for students will potentially be lost;

· The sector might become polarised between institutions which offer courses only to students with AAB+ qualifications and those which offer provision below £7,500; 

· Choice for students may be limited rather than expanded;

· It may become harder for students from non-traditional backgrounds to access higher education. Choice might be more restricted for those from disadvantaged backgrounds who are less represented in the AAB+ student population.  Institutions will be less able to account for this in their offers to students; and

· Provision of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and in other strategically important and vulnerable subjects (SIVs) might be adversely affected.

Professor Paul Wellings, Chairman of the 1994 Group and Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University, said:

“We fully support the Government’s desire for a system geared towards student expectations, where excellent institutions are able to expand to meet high demand. However, the proposals currently on the table don’t go far enough. They will only allow extra places for a few students, and mean that many others will be denied a place at an outstanding institution. The Government needs to rapidly expand the proposals if it wants to see real competition and choice for students.”

The 1994 Group call for the Government to expand the White Paper proposals to uncap all student numbers by:

· Uncapping student numbers for grades ABB at A Level in 2012/13;

· Fully uncapping student numbers in future years;

· Incentivising industry and charity sponsored places to assist with the costs of the student loans.

Professor Paul Wellings added:

“A system which has full flexibility in student numbers will see institutions respond to student demand, offering students greater choice in mode, style and subject of study.  A truly competitive environment will encourage institutions to provide ever higher quality student experiences and offer value for money.”

“We need to make sure that every one with the desire and potential to excel in higher education has the opportunity to do so. At a time when we badly need a highly educated workforce to boost economic success, we cannot afford to set limits on student places. “

A full copy of the 1994 Group response to the HE White Paper is attached.


Media Contact:

Mark Fuller

0207 872 5596

07952 286 223

Notes to Editors:

1.    The 1994 Group represents 19 of the UK’s leading student-focused research-intensive universities. It was established in 1994 to promote excellence in University research and teaching.

2.  12 of the top 20 universities in the Guardian University Guide 2012 league tables are 1994 Group members. 8 of the top 20 universities in the 2012 Sunday Times University League Table are 1994 Group members. 9 of the top 20 universities in the 2012 Complete University Guide are 1994 Group members. 8 of the top 200 universities in the 2011/12 QS World University Rankings are 1994 Group members.

3.  In 17 major subject areas 1994 Group universities are the UK leaders, achieving 1st place in their field (THE RAE subject rankings 2008). 57% of the 1994 Group's research is rated 4* 'world-leading' or 3* 'internationally excellent' (RAE 2008, HEFCE).

4.  The 1994 Group represents: University of Bath, Birkbeck University of London, Durham University, University of East Anglia, University of Essex, University of Exeter, Goldsmiths University of London, Institute of Education University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, Lancaster University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, Queen Mary University of London, University of Reading, University of St Andrews, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of Surrey, University of Sussex, University of York.

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