The Higher Education Funding Council for England revealed today that it had received bids for a total of 35,811 places, almost twice the 20,000 that are on offer.
The bids have been made by a total of 202 institutions, of which 34 are higher education institutions and 167 are further education colleges. There was also one bid from a secondary school offering foundation degrees, Hefce said.
The figures have been published after the deadline for submitting bids – which are only open to institutions charging fees of £7,500 or less - passed on 11 November.
The institutions that recently proposed cutting their average fees to £7,500 or less in order to take advantage of the scheme were able to submit bids, suggesting that most of the applications from universities were from this group.
Each of the 202 bids will be assessed on quality and demonstrable demand for places - as well as meeting the price threshold - before Hefce makes allocations early next year.
The funding council’s spokeswoman said that if eligible bids exceeded the 20,000 numbers available, places would be allocated on a pro-rata basis among the institutions.
The margin of places is being made available by cutting the core allocation of places to all universities and colleges by around 9 per cent in 2012-13.
‘Simplification’ the prescription for FE oversight
Governance, quality assurance and data management will be “simplified” to give further education colleges more freedom, according to skills minister John Hayes.
Speaking at the Association of Colleges annual conference in Birmingham on 15 November, he said there were “still too many rules putting the brakes on progress and stifling innovation”.
“I want to liberate colleges to be free to do what is right for their communities now. The changes we propose are radical, and by the end of this Parliament will transform the further education landscape,” he said.
Colleges will be able to get funding for programmes that meet an “employer skill need” while simultaneously developing the qualification.