A COLLEGE that seemingly "dumped" students' places at the eleventh hour has been oversubscribed for years and feels it responded "ethically and morally" to the situation.

There was fierce criticism of Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College yesterday after students who were due to enrol for the next academic year were suddenly told the college was full and their places were cancelled.

Many parents and children from Bradford were negatively impacted.

This included a girl from Saltaire, whose father - who wished to remain anonymous - said they received a "terse" text at 5pm the night before she was due to enrol.

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He claimed the message basically said "don't bother enrolling, you've not got a place" and was like being "dumped by text".

A letter from the college, believed to have been sent in late June, mentioned the setting was oversubscribed and reminded people of its prioritisation criteria.

But this included prioritising those at schools nearest to Notre Dame College, something the dad claims was not part of the original admissions policy.

In his words, it meant those from Bradford or further afield were essentially excluded.

As of 4.30pm on Thursday, downloading the admissions policy from the Notre Dame website provides a document that makes no mention of the "order of nearest to College" priority criteria.

The college issued an official statement today in response to the furore.

It said: "We fully understand and share the disappointment and frustration of those of you who have unfortunately not secured a place here at Notre Dame.

"We are an outstanding, over-subscribed non-selective Sixth Form and have been over-subscribed for a number of years.

"We believe we have responded ethically and morally to a unique set of circumstances, including: the significant demographic growth in post 16 numbers in the Leeds region (as indicated in the ONS data table below) combined with better GCSE results.

"This has meant we had to make the very difficult decision to stop enrolling, as we had hit unprecedented capacity.

"The shortfall in the availability of post-16 places in Leeds is not a short-term spike but a continued year-on-year growth coming through the system, showing at least 18 per cent growth of 16-18s between 2021 and 2026.

"At local and national levels there has been no provision for this growth.

"The BBC ran an article only two days ago that ‘Colleges need extra £570m due to rise in students’.

"There is enormous pressure on places in successful sixth forms and colleges across the country.

"We have therefore been in the unprecedented position of being full after three days of enrolment which followed the order of enrolment with Catholic partner schools, followed by other Catholic schools and Catholic students, and finally other schools in order of nearest to College.

"This mirrors our inclusive non-selective ethos and our commitment to the local community.

"We know we have acted as ethically and morally as we could have under such difficult circumstances.

"We understand the disappointment this has created, and we are frustrated that we are unable to offer any more places.

"All students have been added to our waiting list, but unfortunately, the College is experiencing at local level a very real national problem."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: ONS national population data released by Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College as part of its statementONS national population data released by Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College as part of its statement