Thousands to miss out on university places

Author: By Alison Kershaw, Press Association

Data to be published by Ucas is expected to show that applications to UK
universities has risen by 9.7 per cent in the last year.

It is thought the record rise has been fuelled by unemployed workers, and
those facing an uncertain future, returning to education to improving their
skills during the recession.

But the Government has capped the number of additional places available at
universities in England for the next academic year, so no more than 10,000
extra students can be admitted. This was partly due to a £200 million
shortfall in the budget of the now defunct Department for Innovation,
Universities and Skills.

It is thought that just 3,000 of these extra places are for full time first
year students.

It was originally suggested that up to 30,000 people will miss out on
university places this summer, but it now looks likely that the number will
be even higher.

The National Union of Students has previously estimated that a least 28,000
students will be refused a place, and last month, university think tank
Million+ estimated that it could be up to 40,000 people.

Just 16,000 places could be available in clearing this August, Million+ said.
Last summer 43,000 places were filled through clearing.

The Ucas figures, from a snapshot taken at the end of June, are expected to
show that around 592,000 people have applied to start courses at UK
institutions this autumn, up from around 540,000 at the same point last
year- around 52,000 extra applicants.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union said: “We
know the power that education has to transform lives and welcome the
encouraging rise in applications.

“During these tough economic times we need to be doing everything we can to
support educators and students. The Prime Minister boasted recently that he
would not allow education to become a victim of the recession.

“Unfortunately, the government is yet to do anything to suggest his statement
was not merely rhetoric.”

Shadow Universities minister David Willetts said ministers were “sleepwalking
into a crisis”.

He said: “Young people are becoming the biggest victims of this recession. The
number of young people not in education, employment or training is already
at record levels and now we are on course to have a record number of young
people refused a university place.”

Universities minister David Lammy said: “There are record numbers of students
currently in higher education – 300,000 more than in 1997. And this year we
expect that there will be 40,000 more accepted applicants than just three
years ago.

“Students who get the grades to meet their offer will secure a place at
university this summer, but we will continue to work with the sector to
support those who do not and to manage increased demand.”

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