Record fall in UK university applications for 2013

Applications by mid-November for university courses starting next year have dropped by a record amount, dashing hopes that last year’s fall was a temporary blip. Only 120,000 British students had applied by mid-November to university courses starting next year, a decrease of more than 13,000 or nearly 10 per cent from the same stage last year. This is from the Telegraph…

Figures released today by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) showed a record percentage fall in the number of 18 year-olds living in the UK who had applied by this stage of the admissions cycle. Total demand among all students was down by 8.4 per cent against the same time last year.

Students beginning university next year will be only the second cohort to pay at the higher rate of tuition fees, which were increased to a maximum of £9,000 per annum last year – almost treble the previous limit. The fees increase led to a sharp drop in applications last year, but hopes that this was a temporary dip will have been hit by today’s figures, which show an even greater proportional fall at this stage compared with last year among British school leavers.

In total 145,000 applications were received for all courses at UK universities by November 19 this year. This compares with more than 180,000 at the same stage in 2010, the year before the introduction of the new fees regime.

Ucas chief executive Mary Curnock Cook attempted to play down the drop in applications, saying that “experience tells us that changes at this point in the cycle are a poor guide to final demand”.

She also pointed to the smaller pool of potential applicants this year, as factors such as the relaxation of admissions caps and high numbers finding places through the Clearing process last year left fewer ‘unplaced applicants’ seeking to reapply than in previous years.

However Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the university think tank million+, said: “It is very early in the applications cycle and many potential students take time to explore their options but alarm bells should be ringing in Government. If these statistics prove to be indicative there would be another downturn in university applications in 2013.”

NUS President Liam Burns said that “significant early drops in applications in England were sustained throughout last year”. He added: “The Government should now finally admit that its higher education policies are having a significant impact on application behaviour.”

Typically around a third of applications for university study are received by mid-November.

Demand among English students, who are bearing the brunt of the tuition fees increase, fell by nearly 10 per cent. However the drop among Scottish students, who do not pay tuition fees to study at Scottish universities, was even more severe at 10.5 per cent. Applications from students in Wales and Northern Ireland also fell sharply, dropping 8.7 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

More at:  Record fall in UK university applications for 2013

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