University of Portsmouth head remains positive about reforms

CHALLENGE University of Portsmouth vice-chancellor, Professor John Craven
CHALLENGE University of Portsmouth vice-chancellor, Professor John Craven

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THE VICE-CHANCELLOR of the University of Portsmouth says he is confident his institution will rise to the challenge of radical changes outlined in the higher education white paper, released yesterday.

Prof John Craven welcomed proposals to publish detailed information about subjects – including graduates’ jobs and salaries – for the benefit of students whose tuition fees will in future fund university teaching directly.

He insisted proposals to offer 65,000 extra spaces for school-leavers with at least two As and a B at A-level, which make up about 15 per cent of his student intake, would not lure them elsewhere.

He said: ‘I don’t think universities that only accept the top grades will want to take on many more students.

‘Certainly competition is going to increase but it was not so long ago that there were more university places than students. It won’t be the first time we are competing to attract students.

‘I welcome the higher level of transparency around courses. Students are paying a lot for their education and have a right to be fully informed.

‘It is hard at this stage to tell how the changes will impact our courses, but I’m sure we will learn a lot over the next year.’

Prof Craven has announced fees of £8,500 but the white paper also proposes allocating more student places to universities charging £7,500 or less.

He said: ‘We couldn’t provide the level of excellence we would want to on less.’