UK Universities Strongly Oppose Proposal to Limit Number of Students

United Kingdom

Leaders of universities across the United Kingdom have strongly opposed the proposal to limit the number of students and access to loans.

Responding to the UK government’s consultation on higher education reform, Universities UK (UUK), representing 140 universities in the country said that the changes proposed by the government to the higher education system would have “significant implications” for universities, students as well as local communities.

In a media release, the organization has warned that student number caps would mostly hurt those coming from disadvantaged groups, Erudera College News reports.

“As well as limiting student choice, student number caps entrench disadvantage because students who are unable to move location to attend university have fewer opportunities to apply and be accepted to university, making them more likely to choose a path with poorer employment outcomes,” Universities UK said.

The organization stressed that the limitation of opportunities in education is also counterproductive because the United Kingdom is aiming to upskill graduates. According to UUK, restrictions can prevent universities from developing the graduate skills that the UK needs.

UUK President Steve West also highlighted that universities oppose student number caps because it will be the disadvantaged groups that will be affected the most.

“All reforms to higher education need to be in the best interests of students as well as universities, business and society. We remain committed to working together with government to ensure future policy decisions reduce inequalities and wholeheartedly support the levelling up agenda,” West said.

In its response to the government’s consultation, the organization has also raised issues related to using minimum entry requirements. It said that universities that are most likely to be affected by the minimum entry requirements are those that enroll high percentage of students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Some of these universities are also located in government priority levelling up areas and reduced recruitment numbers would have significant financial implications for them, limiting their ability to provide support for their disadvantaged students and invest locally,” Universities UK added.

According to the National Union of Students (OfS) data, universities have made significant progress in improving access to university, meaning that those who enter university with the lowest A have higher continuation rates than the average, proving that previous results do not determine the ability of students to enroll in the university.  

Recently, university leaders in the UK said that they are supporting reforms in England through which individuals would be able to learn and teach new skills. Leaders pointed out that they are ready to redesign courses, improve support for flexible education as well to offer better advice for career progress.

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