Friday, 20 January 2012

Core/Margin again: here is the core

Caroline Charlton at HEFCE emailed my Vice Chancellor this afternoon with a spreadsheet and covering letter setting out the core element of our core/margin Student Number Control. Anything we have won from the margin will be announced separately in a few days' time. Caroline is a former colleague of mine and a truly charming individual whom I wouldn't wish to offend, but I can't see any embargo or other restriction she has placed on her letter so I shall give you the highlights.
  • HEFCE has not yet had its letter of grant/guidance from BIS but felt constrained to issue SNC numbers now because of the stage the UCAS cycle has reached, so the numbers are provisional;
  • We expected a 20,000-place cut to create the margin, but HEFCE have imposed an additional 5,000 place cut (25,000 in all). The extra 5,000 places are simply to reduce the risk to Treasury if all institutions exactly hit their SNC limits;
  • Further reductions beyond this 5,000 may be required by Government when the HEFCE grant letter is published;
  • Institutions who have exceeded their SNC in 2011/12 (I have no idea who these might be) will have to reduce their recruitment of non-AABs in 2012/13 to avoid further grant adjustments/fines for over-recruitment, so if there are any institutions who have over-recruited this year and have significant AAB populations they will face a very challenging position come confirmation and clearing this August. In an extreme case, an institution which has greatly over-recruited and has many AABs could be required to reduce its non-AAB intake by more than its SNC which would only be possible by recruiting negative numbers of students.... HEFCE's reason for this is that if institution A reduces its AAB population then institution B can just recruit those AABs, so there is no saving to the public purse.
Looking at my own institution's data, it seems that HEFCE have been reasonably lenient in the view they formed of the proportion of students with unknown or incomplete entry qualifications who may be AAB+. That is a great relief and means that (after our expected margin allocation has been made) we can hope for a tiny element of growth in our Home FTUG intake. The extra 5,000 places cut are a shame, but overall not a bad result.

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