The University has failed to accept the SRC’s demand that student numbers be capped until 2027. The only demand, out of the four, that the University set out an adequate response to was the demand that the SRC be involved in planning for the 23/24 academic year in regards to incoming students. In response to the open letter the University rejected two of the demands on the grounds that they are already taking this action in “constantly reviewing” policy on accommodation and providing adequate teaching and learning space. The SRC has since responded urging the University to commit to the zero growth demand and for further clarity on what the policy for next year will be in relation to accommodation.
Despite not accepting to cap student admissions until 2027, in its response the University did commit to zero growth for the 2023/24 academic year “in recognition of the current pressures on accommodation”. The University rejects the use of student headcount as an adequate measure to track growth as some students are only studying on a part-time basis or remotely, which has less of an impact on university services. The SRC in response claim that even under the metric used by the University the growth is still double the UK average; the University did state that growth is double that of its Russell Group peers largely due to significant increase in international postgraduate students who pay fees of up to £25,000 a year. In its official response the SRC highlighted the issue of substantial growth in this area, as whilst enrolment numbers are within “the realm of other universities, it is the rate of growth that has caused the sudden and uncontrolled strain on campus resources”.
An area of concern for the SRC is that the University failed to provide clarity on an accommodation policy for next year, instead just stating that it will be set out before applications close. In response the SRC said: “From conversations with SMG, we believe the plan is to not include PGT students in the guarantee. International PGT students are particularly vulnerable to the fluctuating housing market, as they typically are unable to start looking for housing in the private rental market until they arrive in the country as most landlords are able to find renters for their property within a single day of open viewings. However, we understand that the University does not want to promise something it cannot uphold and once again leave students in a state of crisis. Therefore, we ask that the university include in their response a commitment to publish the accommodation policy as early on as possible, suggesting this to be before the January UCAS deadline (by 25 January 2023), so incoming students can make fully informed choices about their acceptance of offer.”
Although the University has not accepted the demand for zero growth until 2027 it has assured the SRC that it will be involved in the conversation on student admissions, inviting them to join the University Recruitment and Conversion Committee which oversees the admissions process.