OU gets go-ahead for extra students

March 20, 1998

The Open University will receive Pounds 3.25 million to pay for 2,200 extra students next academic year under a Higher Education Funding Council for England scheme allowing institutions to bid for more places.

The funding council received 184 bids for 16,507 places, the vast majority full-time.

The OU will use the extra places for a "third generation of courses" expanding the use of technology and moving further towards open learning.

Other big beneficiaries of the Hefce scheme include Luton, which gets 100 full-time and 400 part-time undergraduate places for a joint project with local colleges, and Leeds Metropolitan University, which gets 40 undergraduate and 210 postgraduate places in a consortium bid and another 420 part-time places on its own.

Oxford University will have money for an extra 0 part-time undergraduate places to help widen participation and the London School of Economics 40 full-time places to maintain access.

Plymouth will be able to grow by 300 full-time and more than 230 part-time places to enhance regional access and provision, while Exeter's plans for Cornwall brought it an extra 125 places.

In total 124 institutions will get 5,775 full-time and 7,801 part-time extra places. Seven per cent are at postgraduate level but more than half of the full-time places are at sub-degree level, of which just over a third are in further education.

Hefce expects institutions to franchise up to 50 per cent of the sub-degree places awarded to them to further education colleges. In all, more than 60 per cent of the places were to help widen access.

Bids were decided on grounds of innovation and regional need, quality, student demand and institutional strategy and investment.

Few institutions applied in the innovation category.

Bidding criteria for the 1999-2000 round will be published in the next few months.

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