To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of domestic students who will study at UK universities in the 2020-21 academic year.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number of prospective students who will defer their studies at UK universities in the 2020-21 academic year as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with university officials on allowing prospective students to defer their studies due to the covid-19 outbreak.
Our most recent estimate of the number of English-domiciled full-time undergraduate entrants studying at UK universities in the 2020/21 academic year is 377,000. This estimate is from March 2020 (and pre-dates the COVID-19 outbreak). The department is working closely with the sector to understand the likely impacts of COVID-19 on the higher education (HE) sector, including student numbers, and has introduced a HE stabilisation package to support the stability of the HE sector and protect the interests of students.
There is no need for students to defer their studies this year if they do not wish to do so. Any student who wants to defer their studies should do so through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) system, but we would want to be sure that where they do so, they make their decision based on the best possible advice and information. The level of activity most recently reported by UCAS and the Student Loans Company (SLC) indicates that there are no signs of the level of deferrals being significantly different to that seen in previous years.
We have had regular discussions with sector representative bodies, such as Universities UK (UUK), since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. We know that UUK is working with their members and UCAS to provide as much clarity as possible to applicants about likely arrangements for the delivery of HE university courses this autumn.