Image: Wikimedia Commons/ TSP

Government to lift cap on STEM degrees next year

The government has announced that it has lifted the cap on medicine, dentistry, veterinary science and teaching courses for the next year in England.

The Department for Education announced on 20 August that the cap on places for these degrees will be lifted for all domestic students in England who have met the grade requirements.

This follows a nationwide outcry over the depression of A-level results calculated through an algorithm, resulting in thousands of students having their grades downgraded from their original teacher-assessed marks. 

The government’s decision to make a dramatic U-turn and revert to centre assessment grades has meant that thousands of students have now belatedly received the required grades for their chosen courses.

Many universities had already filled their quota for this year’s places before the move to improve students’ grades.

According to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), around 15,000 students who were rejected by their first-choice universities before the grading U-turn now fully meet their offer conditions.

This pandemic has highlighted more than ever the importance of our fantastic healthcare services and the need to invest in them

– Michelle Donelan, Universities Minister  

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has said: “I am delighted that the Government and the higher education sector have agreed that all students who achieved the required grades will be offered a place at their first-choice university.

“I want universities to do all they can to take them on this year or offer alternative courses or deferred places where required.”

She added: “This pandemic has highlighted more than ever the importance of our fantastic healthcare services and the need to invest in them.”

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Russell Group’s new chief executive, commented: “The Government’s decision today to provide additional funding for high-cost courses, such and chemistry and physics, and to lift the number caps on specialist courses, including medicine and dentistry, is a very positive step which will allow us to increase capacity and help more students to benefit from a high quality education.”

The government is also granting additional funding to universities to help them absorb the additional student numbers for these specialist subjects this year. 

This follows action already taken by universities such as the University of Durham, which are offering a bursary and ‘guaranteed college accommodation’ to students who volunteer to defer a year due to capacity issues caused by the U-turn.


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