The Vice-Chancellor has commented on the latest Government plans to remove the cap on the number of student places that UK publicly-funded universities can offer from 2015.
The proposed change was revealed in Chancellor, George Osborne’s Autumn Statement. From 2015, English universities will be able to recruit as many students as they want. Mr Osborne says this will enable the 60,000 students who achieve the necessary grades each year, but who miss out on a degree place, the opportunity to go to University.
Commenting on the proposal, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Howard Newby, said: “We will need to revisit our plans following this important development. Our student application figures are rising and we continue to invest in enhancing the student experience.
“We will review the opportunities that the removal of the cap presents for 2015 and beyond. We do welcome extra funding in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) where we have high demand for student places”.
Universities UK has welcomed the move to expand student numbers because increased numbers of graduates are good for the economy, developing a strong society and improving the lives of individuals. Chief Executive, Nicola Dandridge said: “Our universities are one of the UK’s most important assets so it is vital from the UK’s future prosperity that government maintains investment in this area. The long-term commitment to science is also to be welcomed.”
However, Russell Group Chief Executive, Wendy Piatt has urged caution:”We have always said that quality higher education should be prioritised over quantity, especially in times of limited funding. We are, therefore, concerned that the Government has chosen to put additional taxpayers’ money into growing student numbers so substantially.
“The Government has said additional student numbers will be paid for through the sale of student loans but only time will tell if this sale will fully meet the costs of this expansion.”