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Farron calls on government to lift cap on student places

February 25, 2010 12:00 AM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has called on Lord Mandelson to scrap the artificial cap that HEFCE, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, has placed on institutions taking students to study at foundation degree level.

Tim wants to allow successful colleges, like Kendal College locally, to have the freedom to recruit more students if they want to. The college has around 280 higher education students, a figure it would be keen to see increase. It is also keen to use part of the University of Cumbria's Ambleside campus, which is currently under threat, to base a new international hotel school based on a similar model to the 113 year old Swiss Lausanne Hotel School.

HEFCE currently impose a maximum number of students for each institution. If the institution recruits more students they can be severely fined.

The number of students signing up for foundation degree courses in England has grown massively over the last two years. Foundation Degree Forward (FDF), which promotes employer links with higher education, says new enrolments rose from 27,825 to 99,740 in just two years.

Tim said: "Foundation degrees have been a real success story in higher education over the last couple of years. Colleges in our area, especially Kendal College, are leading this charge. Greater scope in foundation degrees could allow colleges to link up with local businesses, like for example with Kendal based Gilkes, to offer the opportunity of highly skilled apprenticeships with world class local firms. I want to give local colleges the freedom to decide what courses they want to run, with whoever they want and to take as many students as they want. The current system of arbitrary caps and targets are missing the point. I want to free up the system."