Universities in England will have to compete against each other and private providers for a quarter of their student places Ministers warned last month.
UK Universities Minister David Willetts has published plans to increase market forces in higher education in England.
Promising to put “students in the driving seat”, he also announced there would be 20,000 places reserved for degrees with fees of less than £7,500.
In the higher education White Paper, a controversial plan to create extra places for privately-funded individuals has also resurfaced – on the basis that it will be restricted to those sponsored by a business or a charity.
Mr Willetts said the reform package would “open up the system” and “put power where it belongs – in the hands of students”.
The White Paper, called Students at the Heart of the System, details plans to make universities bid for a proportion of their places – a higher proportion than had been anticipated.
This raises the prospect that while some universities will expand, others will lose student places.
Mr Willetts said that no government could offer a guarantee that courses or even institutions might not close as a result.
This proportion of universities bidding for places is “just the start”, said Mr Willetts. “We want to extend the system so more places are contestable.”
From 2012, universities will be able to offer unlimited places for students achieving AAB grades at A-level or better – regardless of the total student quotas they have been allocated.
This will encourage top universities to compete for the 65,000 students each year who attain these grades.
The White Paper also promises to reduce barriers to private providers entering higher education.
Lecturers attacked the proposals as an attempt by the government to recover from having lost control of fee levels.
“Trying to force down the cost of a degree after the government got its sums wrong will not solve the funding crisis it created,” said Sally Hunt, leader of the University and College Union. Source: BBC
The battle ensuing for home based students between private and government funded universities will inevitably result in many students choosing the cheaper option.
Private colleges can already provide degree and masters courses at lower fess, over a two (rather than the three ‘six months working years’ it takes at most Universities) year period and with more one-to-one tuition.
The loss of large numbers of home based students at a time when foreign students are increasingly turning to other countries due to changes in the Immigration Rules (Tier 4 Rule Changes, Tier 2, scrapping of Post Study Work Visa etc), will hit some Universities hard.
Universities will have to work much harder to attract international students as countries like Australia and Canada compete for their billions.
The UK is currently the second most popular destination for international students, after the US, but it remains to see how long it will retain this position following the coalition government’s pledge to slash the number of students and migrants coming into the country.
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