A-level surge swells campuses

September 20, 2002

This year's record A-level results have boosted enrolments at many old universities, leaving some students struggling to find places in hall.

Home student numbers at the University of Kent at Canterbury were up 15 per cent - about 300 students - and overseas numbers are expected to be up a third. The university guarantees all first-year students a place on campus and has asked postgraduates to move off campus to make room for the new students.

Warwick University overshot its target by 200. "We saw this coming when the A-level results came out," a spokesman said. "We have fantastic new accommodation at Liberty Park under a private finance deal, as well as more buildings going up. All our students will have a roof over their heads."

Keele University has seen its numbers rise by 5 per cent; Newcastle by 2 per cent. Leeds University is short of 150 beds for students recruited in clearing. Manchester University is set to slightly exceed its home target of 4,954 but has seen overseas students increase by 25 per cent and the University of Northumbria at Newcastle and the University of Bristol are on target.

Scottish universities have also seen significant rises in student numbers. An Aberdeen University spokesperson said: "We are 200 over our target at this stage."

Napier University reported 3,061 undergraduate acceptances compared with 2,656 this time last year.

Gordon Craig, director of admissions at Dundee University, said the university's overall intake was up 20 per cent on this time last year, with a 25 per cent increase in overseas student numbers. Heriot-Watt University said its overall entry was likely to rise by 17 per cent.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service said numbers of accepted applicants were up by 2.4 per cent on last year, but said that this meant a number of universities were set to underrecruit.

De Montfort reported difficulties recruiting to full-time courses. It expected to take about 4,900 students against a target of 5,187, although it did recruit more students than last year.

Coventry University vice-chancellor Michael Goldstein said: "We still have some vacancies but it's difficult to say how many because there are still offers outstanding. We expect to be up to target or possibly marginally below."

Paul Prendergast, senior team leader for admissions at South Bank University, said: "In the first two days of clearing, we took over 6,000 calls.

"Although this is slightly down from last year, the number of offers we sent out is comparable to last year's and our return of acceptances is up from this time last year."

David Warner, principal of Swansea Institute, said full-time recruitment had been "tough" this year, although Swansea was still expecting to hit its target. He thought the lifting of the cap on recruitment limits had encouraged students to shop around.

At the City campus of London Metropolitan University, enrolment has yet to begin, but a spokesman said that the offers and acceptances were up on last year. Figures were not available for its north London campus.

Luton said that offers were up 10 per cent on last year, but it had no firm figures as yet.

Baroness Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK, said: "Universities UK believes there needs to be continued diversity of provision across a wide range of institutions.

"Allowing universities and courses to be at the mercy of short-term fluctuations in demand is wasteful. Why cut back on capacity at a point when the sector is being asked to expand?"

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