City universities face losing places

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HUNDREDS of student places could be lost at Sheffield’s universities under Government proposals aimed at driving down tuition fees.

Ministers are dismayed so many universities - including Sheffield - are planning to charge the maximum amount allowed of £9,000 from next year.

Sheffield Hallam is to charge £8,500, and the national average will be £8,393,

But ministers want to reward universities that are keeping their fees down, and put pressure on those charging high rates to make reductions.

As a result they are proposing that universities that charge less should be given 20,000 extra places - while cutting numbers at the elite institutions.

Research by the Labour Party estimates the top Russell group of universities - of which Sheffield is a member - could lose as many as 2,300 places and Sheffield’s share could see it being forced to recruit around 300 fewer undergraduates.

The analysis suggests Sheffield Hallam could fare even worse, being stripped of 450 students.

Professor Cliff Allan, Hallam’s deputy vice chancellor, said: “The Government White Paper which outlines the plan for changing student allocations is still out for consultation and the current proposals could change.

“In addition, we do not yet have any detailed indication about how the process would be managed. Whilst there is no doubt that any changes to the allocation of places will have an impact on our student numbers, at this stage any more detail than this is pure conjecture.

“We will be looking carefully at the proposals to ascertain their implications for Sheffield Hallam University.”

A University of Sheffield spokeswoman said: “We will have a certain number of places cut and reallocated to institutions charging less than £7,500, according to the new Government proposals.

“However in conjunction with this, the proposals will allow the best universities to recruit unlimited numbers of students who are successful in obtaining AAB grades or above.

“As a result, the university expects to be able to retain its overall student numbers by recruiting more students under the second change to the system.”