The Government is to pull the plug on failing universities, a move which will lead to the inevitable closure of some higher education institutions.
Unpopular colleges and universities which cannot attract enough students will no longer get government money to keep them afloat. At the same time, the Government is to lift the cap on student numbers to allow popular, successful universities and colleges to flourish.
Department for Education and Skills sources said ministers believed further education should be run as a "market place". From next month it will be treated as such.
Funding has always been linked to student numbers but without the artificial cap on numbers, flourishing universities with good courses will be able to grow and attract more government money, ministers insist.
Until now, universities and further education colleges that were having trouble getting young people to apply were provided with year- on- year floor funding to stop them from sinking. The Government has told vice chancellors that from next month, they are no longer prepared to do that: the safety net will be removed.
Ahead of Thursday's A-level examination results, which will determine whether tens of thousands of teenagers can take up the places they have been offered, UCAS published statistics showing how applications to certain institutions for the academic year beginning this autumn have soared. But a number of colleges are clearly struggling to attract students, and the statistics show a marked decline in applications.
While applications for degree courses at the University of Birmingham went up by 9.3 per cent, …