Participation plans win extra places

April 9, 1999

Institutions committed to enrolling students from under-represented groups have gained the bulk of the extra student places for next year, under provisional allocation plans.

Last week funding chiefs also unveiled details of more plans to widen participation at universities.

Additional places

The Higher Education Funding Council for England will allocate Pounds 75 million for an extra 45,000 fully funded student places for 1999-2000. The biggest winner in the provisional allocation is the Open University, which has been offered 4,000 part-time places, all at diploma and certificate levels. Sheffield Hallam University also did well, with 1,266 part-time places and 329 full-time places, all at sub-degree levels.

Other winners include the universities of Nottingham and Bath. Nottingham was offered 990 places (790 of which are for full-time degrees), Bath 960 places (595 for full-time degrees).

Other institutions plan more modest expansion. Oxford University was offered 60 full-time and 18 part-time postgraduate places plus 340 part-time places at sub-degree levels. Cambridge University has just 45 more full-time degree places. Other institutions have not applied for more students or have not been allocated any. Institutions may reject the places offered to them.

Formula funding

Institutions will get about Pounds 21 million next year as a premium for recruiting students from disadvantaged groups.

The formula funding is meant to provide institutions with the extra support needed to keep students from under-represented groups from dropping out. HEFCE will pay a 5 per cent premium for young, full-time undergraduates from poor backgrounds, decided on the basis of the postcode of their family home. It has defined 40 geodemographic groups; those institutions recruiting students from a group in which the participation rate is below average will receive the supplement. Funding through this channel will amount to about Pounds 18 million next year.

The remaining money will be used to provide limited support for institutions that are particularly successful at recruiting part-time students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The cash will go to institutions that attract more students than average from under-represented groups, as defined by their postcodes. A 5 per cent premium is planned for each enrolled part-time student above the expected number; this is in addition to the premium that is already paid for part-timers. This channel is expected to amount to about Pounds 2 million next year. HEFCE plans to reveal more details this month.

Special funding

HEFCE has almost doubled its proposed spending on its new special funding programme to Pounds 7.5 million next year. This will reward institutions with schemes to attract students from under-represented groups. Cash will be spent on institutions that form regional partnerships with further education colleges, schools and community organisations, and on spreading good practice. About Pounds 2 million will go to raise the quality of provision for disabled students, continuing for three years.

In the next few months, HEFCE will ask each institution to provide statements on its objectives for widening participation, plans for allocating premiums, recruitment and retention targets.

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