Student number controls

Scenarios and questions and answers for applicants

For 2012 entry, the Government changed the way student number controls operate in England for full-time students. Previously there was a set number of funded places available for learners and this would be split between universities and colleges in England. The Government allowed for the open recruitment of learners with AAB+ or equivalent.

Changes for 2014 entry mean that universities and colleges can openly recruit learners with ABB+ or equivalent as these learners do not count towards the total number places given to them by the Government. The qualifications included within the ABB+ or equivalent list has also increased to include the Cambridge Pre-U, Access to HE Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Edexcel BTEC National Diploma in Early Years Education (NQF and QCF) and CACHE Level 3 Extended Diploma for the Children and Young People's Workforce (QCF), along with select mixed profiles of qualifications.

Universities and colleges will also be given a set number of places for students who are not ABB+ or equivalent, which reflects the number of students they have recruited in the past. It is down to the individual university or college to decide how these are distributed across their courses.

Below are a number of scenarios and questions that may apply to you. Please note that the use of A levels is purely for example purposes and the scenarios and questions listed apply to all qualifications that the Government deem ABB+ or equivalent.

HEFCE has also provided information in relation to student number controls on its website.

Scenarios

I was made an offer of ABB and I achieved ABB

In this situation you will have met the terms of your offer and would have successfully gained a place. You are not at risk of losing your place unless there are other aspects to the offer that you have not been able to satisfy, such as a Criminal Record Bureau check, which is required for some courses such as nursing.

Due to the changes for 2014 entry, if accepted you will not count towards an institution's overall student numbers. 

I was made an offer of BBB and I achieved ABB

In this situation you have met and exceeded the terms of your offer, therefore you have successfully gained a place at your firm choice institution. You are not at risk of losing your place unless there are other aspects to the offer that you have not been able to satisfy, such as a Criminal Record Bureau check, which is required for some courses such as nursing.

Due to the changes for 2014 entry, if accepted you will not count towards an institution's overall student numbers.

As with previous years, UCAS will be operating Adjustment which provides an opportunity for you to reconsider where and what you wish to study. Find out more about Adjustment.

I was made an offer of AAB and achieved ABB

In this scenario you have been unsuccessful in meeting the terms of your offer and it is at the discretion of the institution as to whether or not they accept you onto your chosen course. They may even decide to offer you an alternative place, such as a deferral or a change of course. The institution will take into account a range of factors when making their decision. They will also give consideration to the success of other applicants. Please check UCAS Track to see what their decision is.

If in this scenario you are not accepted by your firm choice, you may still be accepted by your insurance choice or you may be released into Clearing. Find out more about Clearing.

Due to the changes for 2014 entry, if accepted you will not count towards an institution's overall student numbers. 

I was made an offer of BBB and achieved BBC

In this scenario you have been unsuccessful in meeting the terms of your offer and it is at the discretion of the institution as to whether or not they accept you onto your chosen course. They may even decide to offer you an alternative place and the institution will take into account a range of factors when making their decision. They will also give consideration to the success of other applicants. Please check UCAS Track to see what their decision is.

If in this scenario you are not accepted by your firm choice, you may still be accepted by your insurance choice or you may be released into Clearing. Find out more about Clearing.

Due to the changes for 2014 entry, if accepted you will count towards an institution's overall student numbers. 

I was made an offer of ABB and achieved BBB

In this scenario you have been unsuccessful in meeting the terms of your offer and it is at the discretion of the institution as to whether or not they accept you onto your chosen course. They may even decide to offer you an alternative place and the institution will take into account a range of factors when making their decision. They will also give consideration to the success of other applicants.

In this situation, the new student number control arrangements mean that, if your chosen institution decides to accept you, you would count towards a university's capped places, whereas previously you would not have. This may mean that for some courses there is an increased likelihood that some institutions will not be able to accept 'near miss' applicants when in previous years they might have been able to due to them filling up their capped numbers.

If in this scenario you are not accepted by your firm choice, you may still be accepted by your insurance choice or you may be released into Clearing. Find out more about Clearing

Questions and answers

I achieved ABB+ or equivalent. Does this mean I am guaranteed a place at a university?

No. Entry into higher education remains a competitive process and popular courses continue to attract many more applicants than there are places. 

Are there only places at university for ABB+ applicants?

No. The Government has given universities and colleges the opportunity to recruit as many students with ABB+ or equivalent as they like. Universities and colleges have also been given a set number of places to be filled with students who have not gained ABB+ or equivalent or have qualifications that are not included on the equivalencies listed. Institutions with the highest entry requirements will still have a number of places for students who are in possession of qualifications, grades or combinations that are not within the ABB+ or equivalent exemption list. In some cases, this will be higher than the number of students that they recruited with these qualifications in the past.

It is estimated that these numbers will account for two thirds of places in England.*

*Universities and Science Minister David Willetts MP's speech on International Higher Education 

What does ABB+ or equivalent mean?

Universities and colleges have been given the opportunity to expand their number of places for some applicants – defined as those holding ABB+ at A level or equivalent.

Find the list of qualifications and grades considered as ABB+ or equivalent on the HEFCE website

How is this different from previous years?

In the past universities and colleges would be given a set number of funded places by the Government that they would be able to fill. This year some places do not count towards this number in order to increase competition and student choice. 

Why are these changes happening?

These changes are intended to help the Government to manage the student finance budget, to encourage competition and efficiency in the higher education sector, and to increase student choice. 

How does this link to the UCAS Tariff?

The qualifications equivalence has been devised by the Government. It is different to the UCAS Tariff. These differences include qualifications on the Government's list that are not in the UCAS Tariff, such as a first degree. 

I thought this was for students who achieved AAB+?

Previously the Government gave universities and colleges the opportunity to recruit as many learners with AAB+ or equivalent. This has changed to ABB+ or equivalent for students who are applying to begin their studies in 2013.