To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help support universities increase the number of places available to students in the forthcoming academic year.
I have written directly to all Vice Chancellors and have set up a Higher Education Taskforce so the government can work with the sector to build capacity, harness expert views, tackle challenges and ensure that the vast majority of students who want to go to university this year can do so. Together we have agreed that all students who achieved the required grades will be offered a place at their first-choice university, wherever possible.
The government has already taken a number of steps to support universities and students to achieve this goal.
The department has announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, we will completely remove temporary student number controls to help ensure there are no additional barriers to students being able to progress.
We have lifted caps on domestic medicine and dentistry courses in the next academic year and we are supporting providers to offer places to as many students who have met the grades for their current offer as they have physical capacity for and, where there are clinical placements available, through additional grant funding to support the costs of this provision. Health Education England and the Office for Students (OfS) will be contacting all medical and dental schools to discuss their capacity to take on additional students in the 2020/21 academic year.
Additional teaching grant funding will also be provided to increase capacity in medical, nursing, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and other high-cost subjects which are vital to the country’s social needs and economy. All high-cost subjects, which already receive additional funding from the OfS, will potentially see further increases where there is an unexpectedly high distribution of students. The OfS will consult the sector on the details of how the allocations are made.
We are also working across government and with the sector to consider options that we could make available to students so that, if they defer their place, they have a full and varied range of career enriching opportunities to develop their skillset and support their future development.
We will continue to monitor the situation and consider the effects that deferrals will have on future years. Funding decisions for future years will be taken at the Spending Review.