A consultation that uncovered widespread support for capping pharmacy student numbers was "not a vote on government policy", the government has said following its shock decision to leave degree courses unrestricted.
The decision was based on "sources of evidence" other than the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) and Health Education England (HEE) consultation that ran last year, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills told C+D last week (October 21).
But the department refused to reveal any details of this other evidence which prompted universities, science and cities minister Greg Clark to announce that the government's objectives for pharmacy were "best achieved outside a number control system" on October 15.
The government did not have any plans to remove the cap on medicine or dentistry students because they received additional grant funding from HEFCE and therefore carried "significant additional costs to the taxpayer", the department added.
Ninety-six per cent of 76 C+D readers disagreed with the decision to leave student numbers uncapped in a web poll that ran from October 27 to October 29. Last week, C+D readers labelled the decision "a joke".