Elite institutions that will compete for most AAB students revealed

Seventeen English universities face having to win back at least 1,000 full-time undergraduate places as a result of the government’s proposals to create competition for top-achieving students in 2012-13.

July 14, 2011

Figures released by the Higher Education Funding Council for England today show for the first time the potential impact of the policy to remove students with A level grades – or their equivalent – of AAB and above from the controls on places.

Under the plans announced in the recent White Paper, universities would initially lose such places, but would then be able to recruit as many students from this group as they wanted to, provided they could attract them. However, they would not be able to make up any shortfall by recruiting students with lower grades.

The Hefce data – which are based on student records for the 2009-10 academic year – show that at least eight institutions face having to compete for more than 80 per cent of their UK first-year intake.

These include the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Oxford and Warwick, plus Imperial College London, University College London and the London School of Economics.

At least nine universities had more than 2,000 AAB students from the UK and European Union in 2009-10, according to the figures.

These include the universities of Manchester, Durham, Oxford, Cambridge, Nottingham, Leeds, Exeter, Bristol and Warwick.

However, the modelling also shows that many more institutions from across the sector will still face losing a large number AAB places and having to compete to win them back.

Examples include the University of the Arts London, which had 430 AAB students from the UK and EU in 2009-10, Nottingham Trent University (357), Brunel University (325) and the University of Plymouth (8).

In total almost 80 institutions had more than 100 students from the UK and EU with grades of AAB and above, or their equivalents.

Hefce stresses that the figures are indicative because the final decision for 2012-13 will be based on data from this year, and the 2009-10 statistics show there are large number of students whose grades and qualifications were unknown.

The 2009-10 figures indicate that around 56,000 students gained A level grades of AAB or higher, but the government is forecasting that this will rise to about 65,000 in 2012-13.


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