Govt plans 60K increase in student numbers

The government wants to increase the number of students in higher education by 60,000, the universities and skills secretary said today.

Setting out the government’s spending commitments for higher education, John Denham said ministers want a 60,000 increase in student numbers by 2010/11.

This is part of a wider commitment to increasing and widening participation in higher education.

In his annual grant letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Mr Denham says the government further wants an additional 100,000 students enrolling on foundation degrees by 2010/11.

As part of this the universities secretary reaffirmed the government’s commitment to widening participation in higher education.

The government will also urge universities to strengthen links between schools and colleges and hopes 15,000 additional full-time students will be co-funded by an employer and HEFCE by 2010/11.

Mr Denham was writing to the HEFCE following last autumn’s comprehensive spending review, which said spending on higher education institutions will exceed £7 billion.

Combined with increased funding for student support, this will see total expenditure rise by 2.5 per cent a year over the next three years.

Mr Denham said: “The government is investing more in higher education than ever before with record numbers of students going to university.

“By 2011, funding for higher education will have increased by over 30 per cent in real terms since 1997, but with increased financial support comes a higher expectation on institutions to widen participation and reach out to new talent by working more closely with schools and employers.

“I believe the opportunities of higher education should be open to all and I am confident that by increasing the number of students in higher education we will deliver a highly skilled workforce and world class research to ensure an economically competitive UK fit for the 21st century.”

The Leitch Review of Skills last year recommended 40 per cent of the pupil should be educated to the level of higher education.