Uni bosses have come out and condemned government proposals to cap student numbers saying it will be a ‘flawed and backward move’.

According to a release from Universities UK (UUK) university leaders are warning the proposed reforms to post 18 education and funding in England would ‘turn back the clock on social mobility while limiting the government’s own levelling up agenda’.

University reforms

Under the Higher Education policy statement and reform the Department for Education is consulting to ask what the public and the sector think about making access to student finance dependent on having either: at least two Es at A-Level (or equivalent) or at least a grade 4 in English and maths at GCSE (or equivalent). This is to ‘ensure students aren’t being pushed into higher education before they are ready’.

The DfE is looking to possibly introducing targeted student number controls that could be used to constrain growth of courses that offer poorer outcomes. They say there wouldn’t be the same restrictions on courses with good outcomes for students.

UUK ‘strongly opposes’ caps

However, UUK says strongly opposes the introduction of student number caps saying it would ‘hurt those from disadvantaged backgrounds the most’.

Professor Steve West CBE, the UUK president said: ‘Universities oppose student number caps in the strongest possible terms because they will hurt disadvantaged students the most.

‘We agree with government that geography should not limit opportunity and avoiding student number caps is essential if we are to succeed in creating more opportunities to upskill for everyone, regardless of their background.

‘All reforms to higher education need to be in the best interests of students as well as universities, business and society. We remain committed to working together with government to ensure future policy decisions reduce inequalities and wholeheartedly support the levelling up agenda.’

UUK also says the universities most likely to be most affected by minimum entry requirements recruit high proportions of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.