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Last updated: January 18, 2013 4:51 pm
The UK’s newest universities have been hit hardest by the coalition government’s market-led higher education reforms, new statistics have revealed.
Data released by Ucas, the university admissions service, show that the number of people accepted for places at UK universities fell by 28,000 in 2012, largely driven by the rise in the cap on fees at English universities from £3,375 to £9,000.
London Metropolitan University was the biggest loser, accepting 4,100 students in 2012, down from 7,200 a year earlier. Bolton, Greenwich, Leeds Metropolitan, east London and Bradford universities were the next hardest hit English universities.
Shabana Mahmood, shadow universities minister, said: “What we did not know until today was the true chaos that has been unleashed by this government.” She called on ministers to “explain how the same will not be repeated this September”.
The figures include foreign students applying for entry on to undergraduate courses via Ucas, which weighs on London Met’s figures. In the summer of 2012, the UK Border Agency removed London Met’s right to issue new student visas.
This year was the first when the government relaxed the so-called “number control” system, which controls the size of institutions’ student bodies to control costs. Some elite institutions used the new flexibility over their size to grow.
Bristol university took in 1,000 extra students in 2012, while University College London was up by 580 students. King’s College London increased recruitment by 450 students. Oxford and Cambridge remained the same size.
The statistics also include deferred entry, which rose sharply last year because students were loath to defer entry in 2011. That would mean opting into the new fee regime. This has flattered some universities’ figures, including Bristol’s.
Even so, some leading institutions have struggled to maintain their position. Southampton accepted 690 fewer students in 2012 than in 2011, a fall of 13 per cent. Liverpool and Sheffield dropped 10 and nine per cent respectively.
The figures also confirm the increasing diversity in English education. A total of 17 colleges recruited students through Ucas in 2012 for the first time, including Pearson College, owned by Pearson, the company that owns the Financial Times.
Most of the new entrants are institutions such as Yeovil College, a further education college. The statistics exclude institutions that recruit directly.
The business department, which oversees universities, said 2012 “may well be an atypical year, being the first year of a new funding system. Hundreds of thousands of students still started university this year and the total number of people in full-time higher education is bigger than in any year before 2010.”
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