Universities Fined After Oversubscribing Students



Due to strict guidelines which regulate the amount of students recruited by universities, it was revealed last week that the University of York faces up to £500,000 worth of fines after exceeding the maximum amount of admissions allowed.

With the entry of 67 students over the University’s allocated quota, York will likely be fined £8,000 per student under the newly implemented rules enforced by Higher Education Funding for England (HEFCE).

The University of York has defended its decision to oversubscribe on students and has suggested that this move “will be more than outweighed by the additional fee income and teaching grant which the University will receive”. 

As a result of the implementation of the core and margin system, enforced by HEFCE, universities can recruit as many applicants as they wish who achieve grades ABB+. However, there is a limit on the amount of students who can be accepted if they have achieved grades lower than ABB. This limit, enforced on these ‘core’ students, can lead to many universities facing substantial fines if they go over their allocated threshold.

Such regulations are therefore resulting in UK institutions facing the task of striking a balance between oversubscribing on students and facing fees, or undersubscribing and facing a potential funding shortfall.

The University of Nottingham’s (UoN’s), Head of Admissions, Rachel Atkin, confirmed that the UoN “neither under nor oversubscribed for undergraduate home and EU students.. [and that the UoN admission departments] have worked hard to ensure that we provide every opportunity possible for appropriately qualified applicants to have the chance to study here.”

However, Atkin did admit that “it has become increasingly difficult for all universities to manage student numbers with the changes to HEFCE’s student number control, in particular, but we have been careful to operate within the constraints of the numbers allocated to us by HEFCE, whilst ensuring fairness in our treatment of applicants.”

Amy Hall

Read more: The Unsustainability of Student Loans

2 Comments on this post.
  • Mike Dore
    4 October 2013 at 15:22
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    I’m Mike Dore and I approve this message.

  • Matthew Styles
    5 October 2013 at 14:53
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    It’s worth noting that universities dislike this system as much as students/applicants. It makes it incredibly difficult for them to accurately predict their student numbers, as we saw last year when A Level grades went down for the first time in years. Universities were expecting a certain number of AAB achievers and didn’t get them, so had to pick people up through Adjustment, rely on students with under-AAB offers gaining AAB+, or accept a reduction in student numbers.

    It’s not even the technical details and debates around how to choose Firm/Insurance choices, which universities/courses to even apply to, the role of professional bodies like the NHS and so on that bother me; it’s the principle.

    This whole system sets down the statement that A Levels are the best determination of academic ability and academic potential. We already know they’re not, and it takes the widening participation and access agenda back years.

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