am Gyimah has criticised universities for running “threadbare” courses in a rush to put “bums on seats” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Durham University, part of the prestigious Russell Group, has embarked on a massive expansion programme, which includes relocating students from campuses on Teesside and plans to increase student numbers by 4,000 over the next 10 years to 21,500.Lancaster University also has bold expansion plans, hoping to reach a student population from just under 12,000 to 17,000 at its Bailrigg campus by 2025.A spokesperson for the University and College Union (UCU) which represents lectures, said: “Universities cannot simply stick extra lectures on at the start or end of the day and think they are dealing with the problems of increased student numbers or staff workloads. “Plans for lectures outside of normal hours have been met with protests from staff and students, which is perfectly understandable”A spokesman for Lancaster University said: “Student numbers at Lancaster are increasing year on year and we are making significant investment in our campus to provide additional lecture theatres and other teaching-related spaces.“However, a combination of key factors such as differences in student expansion across subjects, increased demand for larger lecture theatres and larger cohorts on key modules means there is pressure on our current teaching timetable – which is likely to remain until new facilities are built.” The universities minister Sam Gyimah has criticised universities for running “threadbare” courses in a rush to put “bums on seats”.Earlier this year Durham students expressed their anger at plans to start lecture earlier in the day, due to the huge numbers of students. The university said the move would be a temporary measure while additional lecture space was being built. The spokesman said that extending lectures to 7pm is a pilot scheme, and will only affect some departments. Universities are holding night time lectures as late as 8pm to cater for rising student numbers, it has emerged.From September, Lancaster University will hold classes running into the evening in order to accommodate its student population.It is one of many institutions whose teaching hours run into the evening, according to a survey carried out by the Times Higher Education magazine.The “core” teaching hours at the University of East Anglia and Brunel Univerity run until 8pm, although both say that an 8pm finish is the rarity rather than the norm.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––The lifting of student number controls in England in 2015 gave universities free rein to recruit as many undergraduates as they see fit. However the move has led to accusations that they now act like businesses, seeking to maximise their revenue by recruiting as many students as possible.