Biggest losers in sub-£7.5k auction revealed

The institutions that are set to lose the most student places as a result of plans to auction off 20,000 to cheaper institutions have been identified in a new analysis.

August 23, 2011

The recent higher education White Paper, published in June, set out a twin-pronged plan to introduce competition for students and force down tuition fees.

One of the measures being introduced in 2012 is a plan to remove from core quotas all places taken up by students achieving at least AAB at A-level (or the equivalent), and allowing individual institutions to recruit as many of these students as they wish.

The other is to remove a portion of the remaining student places from every institution and auction them off to those charging average fees of £7,500 or less after waivers.

Now an analysis by the House of Commons Library has revealed which institutions will lose the most places as a result of the latter mechanism.

According to the analysis, members of the Russell Group or large research-intensive universities could lose between 1,500 and 3,200 places in total.

Of these, the universities of Manchester and Leeds could lose between 250 and 300 places each, while the universities of Oxford and Cambridge could also lose a small number of places.

However the biggest reductions are forecast to come at Manchester Metropolitan University, which could lose between 500 and 550 places, and Nottingham Trent University, which could lose from 450 to 500 places.

Others likely to see big losses in student places are Kingston University, the University of Central Lancashire, Sheffield Hallam University, Leeds Metropolitan University, the University of Hertfordshire and the University of the West of England, which all stand to lose between 400 and 450 places.

Gareth Thomas, Labour’s shadow universities minister, said: "These figures confirm that places at high quality internationally renowned universities for the brightest and best students are set to be axed in order to fund a race to the bottom.

"If the government hadn’t made the wrong choice in allowing universities to treble tuition fees and as a result created a funding hole in its own universities budget, places at universities would not need to be scrapped and the planned auction, with all its uncertainty and instability, would not be needed."

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “Universities will be able to recruit an unlimited number of high achieving students next year. Our proposals will give more students a better chance of going to the university of their choice.”

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