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Things just keep getting better and better in the UK Higher Ed sector.

Universities could be allowed to recruit unlimited numbers of UK undergraduates who are able pay their tuition fees upfront under plans being considered by the coalition government.

The idea, which Times Higher Education understands is likely to be explored in the upcoming White Paper on higher education reforms, would remove students who do not take out state-funded loans from an institution’s cap on numbers.

Currently, about 14 per cent of home students do not take out a fee loan. But if they are undergraduates taking a first degree, they still count towards the limit on numbers for universities, which is imposed to ensure that public spending is controlled.

However, with ministers keen for ways to allow universities to expand without additional costs to the Treasury, it is understood that the White Paper may be used to float the idea of removing self-funding students from the cap.

This at least puts to final rest any sense that the “reforms” currently happening here are part of a process of “Americanizing” British universities. Whatever the other problems with them, all but a tiny handful of US universities run “need blind” admissions systems. The UK seems to be heading toward a very much “need wealth aware” system. And just in case you might be thinking that this will be a minor, top-up sort of change: my university, a very very good one, is currently doing everything it can to increase overseas enrollment, often at the expense of home students even when they will be paying the new £9000 fee.

And to think that when I decided to take a job here I was proud to be joining a more egalitarian system than the one that I’d come from…. Here’s more:

The “off-quota” proposal was raised by David Willetts, the universities and science minister, in a speech to Universities UK’s spring conference earlier this year.

He asked how it could be achieved in a “needs-blind” and “socially progressive” way, although the precise detail of what he was referring to was not mentioned.

Well, the precise detail wasn’t mentioned because it’s actually in fact absolutely impossible. Nonetheless, the BBC this morning (reading apparently from some spin-doctored lie-sheet government press release) headlined the news as a progressive move, designed somehow to “free up publicly subsidised university places for poorer students.” Jesus….

Written by adswithoutproducts

May 10, 2011 at 10:21 am

Posted in academia

One Response

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  1. What do you think the ramifications are for quality of student with this?

    You look at the headline and it’s hard not to imagine not-bright kids being bought entry to top universities. (Setting aside briefly the fact that average kids are already coached etc into outperforming kids from lower income groups in private schools). That in itself seems like a problem for the Russell Group’s credibility…

    Then the article gives more detail, all off-quota places granted would be dependent on meeting course requirements etc. … I just don’t believe there wouldn’t be serious flexibility in the grades ‘required’. Where there’s a parent willing to pay 12k a year upfront, there’s a way.

    An offer based on ‘predicted’ grades say. Maybe quite optimistic predictions, but the university’s happy, the student’s happy, the school is happy… Or given the increasing ubiquity of straight A results at A level, a remarkable coincidence of off-quota kids getting in after ‘sparkling’ interview performances…

    ZSTC

    May 10, 2011 at 1:17 pm


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