Demand for university places drops by 10%


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Thousands fewer students have applied for university places this autumn – but there will still be a scrambled for places after A-level results are published

University sources predict there will be a drop of around 7 per cent in the numbers applying for university this September – with the figures rising to 9 or 10 per cent when applications from English students are counted separately.

The official deadline for applying for university places this autumn – the first year when students will be charged up to £9,000 a year – expired on Saturday. A drop of 7 per cent would mean just over 45,000 fewer students – leaving around 100,000 more students applying than there are places available.

Earlier indications from Ucas, the Universities and Admissions Service, show that applications from mature students dropped the most – with more than 10 per cent less from all age groups beyond 20. Applications from sixth-formers were holding up well by comparison.

Many mature students may be deciding to study part-time now that loans will be available for them for the first time from September.

In its just published annual report, the Office for Fair Access – the university access watchdog – said that "we are encouraged that the overall Ucas young application rate shows only a small change from the record demand in previous years. We are particularly pleased that applications from disadvantaged students appear to have held up relatively well."

Last year saw record numbers applying as school leavers sought to beat the introduction of the new fees regime. Ucas said applications rose by 5.1 per cent.