The UK government has approved more than 9,000 additional places at UK universities for courses which are deemed vital, including those that will support the economy and create better outcomes “for students and the taxpayer,” announced Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan.
These university places are mainly in fields of study like engineering, science, and nursing courses and they will be available for September, according to the Department for Education. This comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the impacts it has had on the health and economic wellbeing of the country.
“As part of the Government’s aim to drive an increase in science and innovation and encourage STEM subject take-up, it has approved more than 1,300 extra university places for engineering courses, 756 places for bio-sciences and almost 500 for maths courses,” reads the announcement.
5,611 places have also been allocated for courses related to healthcare at England universities, as a means of supporting the NHS. A total of 3,803 of these extra places will be going to nursing courses. The aim is for the country to overcome the consequences of the pandemic, by encouraging students to take up courses which will help rebuild Britain.
“The coronavirus will not stop us from boosting growth in vital subjects like science, engineering, and maths. These courses not only deliver some of the best outcomes for students, they will also be integral to driving innovation, helping our public services and building the skills the country needs,” stated Michelle Donelan.
The government has assessed the bids for the announced extra places based on the quality of each education provider, which included an assessment of the institution’s rates of continuation and graduate employment outcomes. The bids that have met the set criteria have been accepted, a total of 3,859 eligible bids from 38 providers.
The UK has been going through a challenging time, ever since the outbreak of the pandemic, but the universities have seen an optimistic increase in applications in the month of June despite lockdown. By the end of June, over 514,020 domestic students have applied for their undergraduate courses through UCAS, an increase of 1.6% more than at the same time last year.
France is also set to create thousands of new university places in order to accommodate huge demand from young school-leavers who have successfully completed their Baccalauréat exam, announced France’s minister for higher education, Frédérique Vidal, earlier in August. Exams this year were awarded based on students’ schoolwork throughout the year.