Government ‘considers lowering AAB threshold’

The previous story is more relevant to mathematics if one takes into account an earlier news, also from THE and also by  John Gill.

Delays to the annual grant letter may be down to government plans to announce an easing of the AAB rules that are to introduce competition for students between institutions.

From 2012-13, universities will be able to recruit as many students as they want provided they have grades of AAB or better at A-level, part of a two-pronged plan by the coalition to introduce competition into the sector. […]

AAB threshold has a potential to seriously affect uptake of Mathematics and especially of Further mathematics A levels by schoolchildren. Therefore the following news is of importance and needs a careful assessment. John Gill:

Now it has been suggested that the government, which has indicated a desire to extend the policy in future years, is planning to lower the grade limit to ABB in 2013-14.

The Times newspaper says the proposal had been due to be included in the grant letter, which had been expected to be sent out to institutions yesterday.

It reports that but that ministers have asked the Higher Education Funding Council for England for additional analysis on its potential impact, resulting in further delay to the letter.

The paper quotes an unnamed “government source” as saying: “Our view is that we would like to move to ABB.”

HE bill ‘to be shelved indefinitely’

From THE, by John Gill:

David Cameron is reported to have made a dramatic intervention in the university reforms, shelving the higher education bill that was due this spring.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the bill, which would have introduced major regulatory reform including new legislation making it easier for private providers to enter the market, is now unlikely be published before 2015.

The paper quotes an unnamed Whitehall source as saying: “The Liberal Democrats were increasingly opposed to further reforms to universities after the recent decision to increase fees.

“But David Cameron was also unimpressed by the recommendations so the whole thing is now off the table.”

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, told the paper: “There’s going to be a further discussion in Cabinet in the next couple of weeks. There’s no final decision either way yet.” […]

However, many of the other reforms that have already been implemented, such as the increase in the tuition fee cap to £9,000 this autumn and the ‘core and margin’ and AAB plans, which will see student places removed from general allocations and thrown open to competitive bids, will not be affected.

[The Telegraph story is published under the title American-backed private universities plan dropped.]