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Higher Education: Admissions

Question for Department for Education

UIN 139469, tabled on 14 March 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of a redistribution of student numbers between providers as a result of higher A-Level grades awarded in 2020 and 2021 on (a) students’ experiences and (b) providers’ finances.

Answered on

24 March 2022

The department has monitored data on student numbers at each provider as the admissions cycle concluded. This analysis was undertaken in calendar years 2020 and 2021 and helped to establish which providers were oversubscribed.

Along with conversations with the sector, this informed the department’s decision to put in place a package of support in calendar years 2020 and 2021, which included providing up to £10 million in additional grant funding to universities through the Office for Students (OfS), to help them to increase capacity in medical, dentistry, nursing, and high-cost science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects. The full package of support for calendar years 2020 and 2021 is set out in the ‘Regulating the financial sustainability of higher education providers in England’ report, available here: in the “key facts” section under “key themes”.

The department is in regular touch with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, as well as the OfS to understand trends in student concerns. We receive the latest information and data about student complaints, which allows early warning of any significant change in the pattern of complaints.

The OfS is responsible for monitoring the financial health of the higher education sector in England, engaging more closely with those it considers at risk. In December 2021, the OfS reported that despite the many operational and financial challenges arising from the pandemic, the overall financial position of universities, colleges and other registered providers has remained sound over the course of the last year, with generally reasonable financial resilience.