Students who fail to gain a place at university this year should consider the “range of other options” available, such as apprenticeships and work experience, before deciding to reapply in future, David Willetts has told MPs.
The universities and science minister today told a select committee hearing that it is wrong to see university as the only route for 18-year-old school leavers – something he described as the “Club Med” model.
Making his first appearance before the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee alongside Vince Cable, the business secretary, Mr Willetts conceded that this summer would be “tough” for thousands of unlucky applicants.
Although the government is providing funding for 10,000 extra places, forecasts indicate that as many as 150,000 would-be undergraduates will fail to obtain a university place.
“For those young people unable to get a place, there will be a range of other options…and they can consider applying again in the future. It is going to be tough, but given the financial position, we think we have got the balance right in terms of extra places,” Mr Willetts said.
He added that young people should not get hung up on the “academic route” if they fail to get into university, and should consider gaining other experience before reapplying.
“We don’t want to get into a situation where the focus is entirely on the academic route. It is not that you have one opportunity at the age of 18 to go to university – the kind of ‘Club Med’ model of university; you can carry on applying and get extra experience,” he said.
Mr Willetts also told the committee that the independent review of higher education funding and student finance, led by Lord Browne of Madingley, was “very likely” to publish its report in October.