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Removal of student number control

This article was previously published on the Leadership Foundation website.

In his autumn statement (2013: 53-55), the Chancellor of the Exechequer announced the removal of the cap on student numbers from 2015/16 for publicly funded and alternative providers of higher education in England. Further, whilst the cap for alternative providers would remain for 2014/15, as an interim measure the government would raise the cap for HEFCE-funded institutions by 30,000 students, allowing an immediate expansion of student numbers in the next recruitment cycle.

The announcements by the Chancellor means a significant change to the operating environment for higher education in England. Given the 'market' for higher education is interdependent, the impact on individual institutions is difficult to predict; much will depend not just upon what an individual institution decides to do, but on the actions of other institutions.

Issues for governors

  1. Although the detail of how the increase in student numbers for 2014/15 is to be managed has yet to be released, governors will need to consider whether their institution should seek to take advantage of any opportunity to secure additional student numbers.
  2. Taking a longer-term perspective, governors will need to consider the likely impact of the announced changes on student recruitment, including the possible actions and reactions of competitor institutions and how these might affect their own recruitment.

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