Plans to remove controls on the number of students in England from autumn 2015 could see more universities turning to recruit students from the European Union, according to a new think-tank report.
Nick Hillman, who was special advisor to the former universities minister David Willetts and is now director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said the decision to abolish the cap on undergraduate student numbers – announced by George Osborne in December 2013 – was rushed through and the detail of the policy remains “fuzzy”.
Competition for EU students?
Hillman said the removal of the cap on student number controls could incentivise universities to recruit more students from the EU, who had previously fallen within the cap.
But this could prove a difficult sell. There was a 24.6% drop in EU-domiciled university entrants at English universities between 2010-11 and 2012-13, the year the new £9,000-year student fee regime was introduced.
Yet a recent report by membership body Universities UK said a number of vice-chancellors were looking to the EU as a potential growth opportunity. There was a 12% rise in the number of applicants from the EU placed at the most selective institutions in 2014-15, according to university admissions body UCAS. Read more.