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University applications down 9%
30 January 2012
Last updated at 06:55 ET
Application figures have been under close scrutiny to see the impact of fees rising to up to £9,000
University applications from UK students for the first year of higher tuition fees are down by 8.7%, according to figures from the admissions service.
With fees rising to up to £9,000 per year, the impact has been biggest for England’s universities – down by 9.9%.
In Scotland, where students do not pay tuition fees, there was a fall of 1.5%.
Universities UK said the “dip is far less dramatic than many were initially predicting”.
But Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU lecturers’ union, said the “figures are very worrying and once again highlight the government’s folly in raising tuition fees to as much as £9,000 a year.
“Applications in England are down over 50% more than in any other part of the UK as a result of the government making it the most expensive country in the world in which to gain a public degree.”
A breakdown of the UK figures show a 4% fall in applications in Northern Ireland and 1.9% in Wales.
The figures published by the Ucas admissions service show that by the 15 January deadline there were 462,507 applications for courses beginning in September.
This represented a 8.7% drop in applications from students in the UK – but an increase in overseas applications meant that the overall figure was 7.4% lower than at the same point last year.
Applications from students from other European Union countries, who would also be affected by the fee hike, decreased sharply – by 11.2%.
But overall figures were buoyed by a continuing increase in applications from outside the EU, up by 13.7%, particularly from countries in the Far East.
The gap between men and women going to university looks set to widen. Women are already in a majority – and the application figures show a sharper fall among men than women.
There is also a breakdown by age group – and this shows that among 18 year olds, across the UK, a decline of 3.6%, compared with last year, with greater drops in applications among older students.
The 1994 Group of research intensive universities said that figures showed that some UK students “have obviously been wary of applying this year”.
The group’s chairman, Professor Michael Farthing, said “the uncertainty caused by the government’s haphazard approach to reform has not helped”.
There have also been signs of an increase in UK students applying overseas.
Maastricht University in the Netherlands, where fees are £1,500 per year, is reporting a surge in applications.
The university is forecasting that they will receive 600 applications from UK students during the current admissions cycle.