£9,000 fees putting a generation of boys off university


A generation of boys is turning its back on university in the wake of the rise in tuition fees to up to £9,000 a year, according to figures released today.

Final figures for this year’s university intake, published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), show a 54,000 slump - 13 per cent down on the previous year (higher than earlier predictions)..

A breakdown showed that the gender gap in entrants had reached an all-time high with the fall in the entry rate being four times higher for men than women.

Overall, it has meant that 18-year-old women straight out of school are 34 per cent more likely to apply to go on to higher education than men.  The difference in application rates is 10.1 percentage points with 40.1 per cent of women applying compared to just 30 per cent of men.

Today’s report shows for the first time that women are more likely to enter higher education than men are to apply.

Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of UCAS, described the figures as “a striking and worrying finding”, adding:  “Young women are now a third more likely to enter higher education than men, a difference that has increased this cycle.”

Dr Mark Corver, head of analysis and research at UCAS, cited the fact that girls had higher qualifications than boys on leaving school as a contributory factor.

However, other sources suggested that - in the wake of the tuition fees rise - some boys could be more likely to seek apprenticeships or immediate employment to avoid plunging into debt.

Introducing the report, Dr Corver said: “Demand for higher education has been weak in 2012.  We’ve seen this weakness in applications and we’ve seen this weakness in acceptances - that’s also down.”

The figures show the biggest slump in entries was amongst universities in England - which charge higher fees - where the numbers fell by 51,200 (13per cent).  Welsh universities also saw a fall by 3,000 (12 per cent).

Earlier predictions of the fall in numbers - based on this September’s intake - suggested a lower drop.  However, the new figures, which cover entries throughout the year, show the fall-out has “more or less doubled”, said Dr Corver.

The figures also surprisingly show a slight drop in the percentage of students with three straight A-grades at A-level gaining access to university - in spite of government attempts to encourage universities to offer more places to those with A.A, B passes and above.

Higher education experts predicted this was due to students who were refused their first choice university - i.e Oxford or Cambridge - ruling out apply to what they considered a less prestigious university in view of the fees.  They may, instead, try again next year, it was thought.

One bright spot of the horizon was a rise in both applications and entrants from students from disadvantaged groups. Within England, the entry rate to more selective universities from 18-year-olds from, disadvantaged communities went up by 10 to 12 per cent. That meant they were between 40 and 60 per cent more likely to enter university than in 2004.

Professor Les Ebden, director of the Office for Fair Access - the university access watchdog, said: “Although university applications fell this year, I am pleased to see the continuing rise in the proportion of disadvantaged 18-year-olds entering higher education.

“But there are still wide gaps in participation. Overall, entry rates for 18-year-olds from advantaged areas remain three to four times higher than for those in disadvantaged areas.”

Shabana Mahmood, Labour’s higher education spokeswoman, described the drop in overall numbers as “a massive blow for people and communities across the UK”.

She said the rise in fees “has put a brake on aspiration and has led people considering applying to university to decide against doing so at precisely the time that higher level skills have never been more important to secure their future”.

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the university think-tank million+. added: “There is no getting away from the stark truth that numbers of full-time students are down and the evidence collated so far for 2013 suggests the downward trend is continuing.”

Universities Minister David Willetts said last night: “We expect that the total number of full-time students in higher education this year will be bigger than in any year before 2010.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Belong: Volunteer Mentor for Offenders

This is a volunteer role with paid expenses : Belong: Seeking volunteers who c...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Health & Safety Support Tutor

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in the devel...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent