University To Compete For Brightest Students As Number Cap Relaxed

The tables have turned on universities who, as of this year, will be the ones competing for brightest students as the cap on numbers is relaxed further.

Universities will be competing for more than 100,000 bright students this autumn, it was suggested on Thursday.

Tens of thousands of students who score at least an A grade and 2 Bs at A-level will not be subject to student number controls, as part of major government reforms of higher education.

It means that universities will be able to recruit as many students with these grades or higher as they like, effectively leaving them competing to attract the best candidates.

Under the changes, last autumn there was no cap on the number of students with at least two As and a B at A-level or equivalent - up to around 85,000 youngsters in total.

This year, another 30,000 are expected to score ABB, according to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

This would bring the total outside of the cap to around 115,000 students.

Overall, around a third of students with ABB or higher will be exempt from student number controls, HEFCE said.

A further 5,000 places are being handed over to institutions with lower tuition fees.

The initiatives are part of a Government plan to "increase dynamism and improve student choice," the funding council said.

The figures came as HEFCE announced details of higher education funding for 2013/14, which will see £4.47 billion allocated to universities and colleges in England.

Under the new system, HEFCE funding for teaching is being reduced, as universities gain more money from higher tuition fees, which have been trebled to a maximum of £9,000.

HEFCE chief executive Sir Alan Langlands said: "As HEFCE funding for teaching reduces, and university income through tuition fee loans increases, we will continue to invest on behalf of students to support excellence and diversity in learning and teaching, and a high-quality student experience.

"We remain committed to ensuring that people with the potential to benefit from participation in higher education have the opportunity to do so."

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