FE colleges to win over half of ‘core and margin’ places

Further education colleges are set to receive more student places from the price-based “margin” than universities after the initial allocations were revealed by the government.

February 3, 2012

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has told 143 further education colleges that it intends to give them more than 9,500 places from the pool of 20,000 set aside for institutions charging average tuition fees next year of £7,500 or less.

Meanwhile, 35 higher education institutions have been given 9,300 places, with a further 1,200 held back by Hefce pending an appeals process for both sectors over the next few weeks.

It means that not all further education colleges which bid for margin places have been successful before appeals.

Originally 167 colleges had bid for almost 20,000 places, with universities applying for 16,000 places.

Sixty further education colleges will now have a direct funding relationship with Hefce for the first time as a result of the decision, but the degree to which the sector has increased its share of higher education places is less clear.

This is because a number of colleges have been bidding for places from the margin to make up for some universities withdrawing places they franchise to the sector.

Colleges already directly funded by Hefce have also lost places as part of the 9 per cent cull carried out to help create the margin.

However, David Willetts, the universities and science minister, was clear that more further education colleges would be offering degree courses as a result of the reforms.

“Students will be able to choose from a wider number of courses that are high-quality, value-for-money and accessible,” he said.

“These allocations demonstrate that our reforms are already delivering for students.”

simon.baker@tsleducation.com

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