Half of the extra students expected next year will be recruited to sub-degree taster courses based on television programmes, writes Alison Goddard.
The courses, which are sub-degree and part-time for 12 weeks, will be run by the Open University and will not count towards the government's target of half of people aged up to 30 entering higher education by 2010. The courses are linked to BBC television programmes such as natural history series The Blue Planet .
An OU spokesman said: "The courses are a bit of a taster - a bit of excitement - for people who don't want to commit to a year of study."
The allocations, unveiled this week, show that the OU has 9,400 out of a total of 18,300 extra places for the 2002-03 academic year. Most of the 18,300 new places will be part time and sub-degree.
An extra 2,750 full-time undergraduate places will be available next year, with a further 590 part-time. There will be another 560 full-time postgraduate taught places with 770 part-time. At foundation-degree level, there will be 810 full time and 1,300 part time. At sub-degree level, the numbers are 720 and 10,740 respectively.
Leeds Metropolitan University will get another 390 student places for general growth. It has also been given 165 places for full and part-time foundation degrees, in partnership with the universities of Bradford and Huddersfield and local further education colleges.
A spokesman said: "We have been very successful at recruiting students to target in previous years and that gave us confidence to bid for more."
At the University of Nottingham, an extra 767 places are available next year. Some 606 are full-time undergraduate places to sustain growth.
A further 144 full-time undergraduate places are for building on excellence and there are 17 full-time postgraduate places on the same scheme.
The University of Bristol has 211 new full-time undergraduate places in science, engineering and veterinary science, plus another 91 in languages, humanities and social sciences.