Unite welcomes Higher Education announcement

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LONDON (ShareCast) - Student accommodation group Unite, has welcomed an announcement on 2013/14 funding allocations for Higher Education by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Minister for Universities and Science.

In a letter to the Higher Education Funding Council the announcement also confirmed some important changes to the process for allocating student places to Universities for 2013/14, which Unite believes will lead to "improved recruitment levels for the majority of universities".

In a statement made Thursday, Unite said: "In the current environment, the process for allocating student places is a far more important determinant of final student intake than initial applications.

"This was clearly illustrated in the 2012/13 academic year, when there were over 185,000 unplaced applicants, but a number of Universities reported unfilled places. The confirmed changes are intended to address this evident mismatch of demand and supply of places."

The new measures mean that there will be no restriction on the number of students achieving ABB (NYSE: ABB - news) grades or better at A-level (or equivalent) that Universities can recruit, a change that Unite estimates will increase the size of this uncapped pool from 85,000 to approximately 120,000.

In addition, penalties for over-recruitment of students subject to number controls have been relaxed, meaning universities will now be permitted to over-recruit by 3.0% of their allocation without financial penalty.

Finally, up to 5,000 additional university places will be made available, to be allocated flexibly.

The group added: "Taken together with the impact of deferral rates stabilising, which we believe alone will contribute to an increase of between 15,000 and 20,000 students in 2013/14, we expect these new measures to remove much of the uncertainty surrounding university recruitment and contribute to meaningful student number growth for 2013/14.

"Stronger universities, where Unite's portfolio is largely focused, are particularly well placed to benefit."

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