The letter from the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) asks HEFCE to implement further changes to the student number controls in line with the Government’s aims, set out in the White Paper, of increasing dynamism and student choice (note 1).
Following the removal of controls from students with grades of AAB or higher at A-level or equivalent qualifications for 2012-13, the Government have announced a broadening of this approach for 2013-14 to include students with grades at ABB or above and equivalent qualifications. In the light of significant and increasing pressures on BIS budgets, the letter from the Secretary of State asks HEFCE to exercise caution in its estimation of the numbers of students in the ABB+ population in order to reduce the risk of unanticipated student support costs.
HEFCE has been asked to run a second core and margin exercise following the allocation of 20,000 places in 2012-13. 5,000 places will be available in 2013-14. A majority of these places will be awarded to institutions with an average net charge of £7,500 or below, but the Government has stipulated that a sizeable minority should be available for institutions charging between £7,500 and £8,250. HEFCE has also been asked to support existing HEI/FEC partnerships. We also anticipate making some places available to FECs who do not currently have any directly-funded full-time student numbers.
In implementing these changes HEFCE will seek, wherever possible, to minimise disruption to students and institutions and enable as smooth and timely an admissions process to be run as can be achieved. We will contact institutions about next steps as soon as possible. Meanwhile, institutions submitting Access Agreements for approval by OFFA in May may wish to note the guidance in the letter about the distribution of the margin numbers to differing fee levels.