Further education colleges have won more higher education places than planned as they cash in on a sub-degree bonanza.
Colleges have secured more than half of the extra 36,000 higher education places planned for 1999-00. It means that at least 18,000 more sub-degree places, probably rising to almost 20,000, will be available in colleges next year. The government had provided funding for just 16,000 more sub-degree places.
John Brennan, director of further education development for the Association of Colleges, said: "It is very good news that demonstrates the further education sector's commitment to providing higher education opportunities for communities. We are pleased that the Higher Education Funding Council for England has responded to this by allocating significant growth to the sector."
HEFCE will allocate Pounds 75 million for an extra 45,000 fully funded student places for 1999-00. On top of 36,000 government-funded places, HEFCE will recycle about 9,000 places where there was under-recruitment.
HEFCE actually plans to provide twice the number (32,000) of sub-degree places than will be funded by government. The difference between the figures is because HEFCE has shifted thousands of places from part-time degree provision, plus more from postgraduate provision and other areas.
In total, higher education institutions will get 28,000 extra students, including most undergraduates and postgraduates. They gain just under half the extra sub-degree places but most were bids in collaboration with colleges. So, while the extra student numbers are attributed to them, about 70 per cent of all sub-degree work will actually take place in colleges.
Universities will be free to franchise courses, and further education colleges are expected to pick up extra students this way.
HEFCE received 534 bids for extra student places. Institutions must decide on accepting places by next Wednesday.