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University to be fined over £1million for breaching student number control limit

A Senate report has revealed that the University of Sussex can expect to be handed a £1,176,000 fine for exceeding the recommended number of ABB students they can enrol.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England set this year’s student control number, the maximum number of students who received grades of ABB at A-level universities can take in without being fined, at 1,268 full time students.

The University exceeded this number by 147 students, taking the total number of ABB undergraduate intakes for the 2014/2015 academic year to 1,415.

This results in an £8,000 fine for each student over the limit per year of study.

The report, entitled “Executive Summary of Business for Senate; Student Recruitment and Experience Matters” is a report that examines the number of applications, offers and students for Sussex this year. No further future actions were recommended in this report, except for the Senate to consider its findings.

The University will most likely have to continue paying the fines for each student beyond this academic year, even though this is the last year that universities will be restricted from taking in as many students as they want before the government’s cap on student numbers is abolished.

In his autumn statement last year, George Osbourne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that the cap for the number of students universities can admit was to be lifted this year before being abolished in 2015.

The University has stated that: “This is the last year of student number control; from September 2015, individual universities including Sussex will be able to recruit as many students as they like and it is not yet know what the position will be with regard to any future fines.”

The report also shows the University is recruiting more students, but receiving less applications. It was reported to the Senate that overall, applications fell 14 percent across the board. The report said that: “Undergraduate applications fell by 12 percent and postgraduate taught applications fell by 16 percent”.

However, more positively, the amount of postgraduate research applications had an 8% increase.

While application levels dropped, the University stated that: “For Sussex, overall estimated registered numbers by 1 December 2014 total 13,426 FTE, representing an increase of 2% on the total student numbers for 2013-14.”

An estimated 10.5% of students recruited this year have grades of less than ABB.

Other findings in the report related to university methods of attracting future students. The open days were deemed a successful factor in gaining students as well as the location of the University to Brighton.

The unconditional offer scheme has also been deemed successful, the report stating; “the unconditional offer scheme has been influential in persuading those who were at best ambivalent about Sussex initially to put us as their firm choice”.

Achievement was also seen in the enthusiasm of University teaching staff and the aid of the University in the application process, described as “fast” and “friendly”.

 

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