£100m to buy university land for new schools, and 3 more support package measures

The government has today announced new measures aimed at stabilising university admissions this autumn and ensure “students are safeguarded at a time of unprecedented uncertainty”.

Here’s what you need to know.

 

1. New powers to stop ‘exploitative’ admission practices

Universities caught pressuring students to take places, or offering incentives such as free laptops, face being fined up to £500,000.

The Office for Students will consult on a new temporary registration condition meaning it can intervene if providers “take actions that are harmful to the sector and students”. The government is worried that competition among universities amid the coronavirus crisis would “go against the interests of students and the sector”.

The government said examples of such practices include making unconditional offers or pressuring students to accept places that would not be in their best interests through incentives, such as free laptops

2. ‘Enhanced’ clearing process

UCAS is developing a new clearing system for this summer, called Clearing Plus, that will match students with universities, or other opportunities, based on their achievements and course interests. If students’ calculated grades exceed their predicted ones, the system can also suggest alternative courses with higher entry requirements.

UCAS said the changes mean students won’t have to search “through a mountain of courses or make endless phone calls. The most appropriate course options for them as an individual will be presented through their online account.”

3. Stabilising admissions

The measures, just for the 2020-21 year, mean universities will be able to recruit full-time, domestic students up to five per cent above their forecasts for the next academic year. This will help reduce “volatility and ensure a fair and orderly admissions”, the government said.

The Department for Education will also have the discretion to allocate an additional 10,000 places, with 5,000 ring-fenced for nursing, midwifery or allied health courses. The government will control these numbers through the student finance system.

4. £100m to buy uni land for new schools

The government will also consider buying university land and buildings for new or expanding schools and colleges. The Department for Education has budgeted up to £100 million to acquire sites for planned projects, including universities.