Number of UK students applying to university slumps for second year in a row

 

University applications from UK students showed a further slump- prompting a warning from a senior vice-chancellor that a “generation-long” understanding of the benefits of higher education could be “ebbing away”.

The latest figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show a slump of 18.047 (5.6 per cent) on the previous year - when figures again fell as a result of the introduction of fees of up to £9,000 a year.

The drop off in applications is most marked from English students (6.5 per cent) and Welsh (11.7 per cent). The number of international students to apply has shown a slight increase (0.8 per cent).

They follow the highlighting in today’s Independent by Universities David Willetts of the slump in applications from males.  It prompted him to suggest that white working class boys should be targeted for recruitment by universities in the same way as students from disadvantaged areas and ethnic minorities are.

In an interview with The Independent, Bill Rammell, vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire University and a former Labour Higher Education Minister, warned:  “The real risk is that we are a societal turning-point.

“The generation-long understanding of the benefits of higher education could be ebbing away.  It’s like a super-tanker turning.  Once started, it gains momentum.”

He conceded he had expected a “bounce-back” this year following the slump in 2012 in the wake of the introduction of higher fees. “Bluntly, this expected bounce-back hasn’t happened,” he added.

He issued a “call to arms” - urging ministers to mount a “Government-led, university sector-backed” campaign to promote the benefits of a university education.

He added: “There are mixed messages from the Government who seem to be promoting apprenticeships as an option.  We need to make it clear it is not an either or.  Apprenticeships and other options should not be promoted as the expense of university courses.”

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, added: “We have heard many warm words from the Government about greater efforts to make university appeal to more people but the bottom line is that hiking up the cost is likely to have an impact on people’s decisions when it comes to further study.”

Meanwhile, a leading Labour MP praised Mr Willetts for raising the issue of encouraging more white working class boys to opt for university - but warned it was too little, too late.

Graham Allen, MP for Nottingham North and chairman of the Early Intervention Foundation - who constituency sends the fewest number of young people in the country to university, said: “Where he (Mr Willetts) needs to rethink is to tackle this problem 18 years earlier than the point of admission.

“The answer here is early intervention not a culture of late remedialism which is massively expensive and only ever partially successful.

“There are no quick fixes - only patient long-termism starting with babies and their parents to help develop the social and emotional bedrock that will allow my white working class kids to do just as well on their own merits as middle class kids can.”

UCAS pointed out that it was too early to say what the final picture this September would be - the main deadline for applying is January 15 and last year saw a late rush of applications.  Its view was echoed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which pointed out that traditionally fewer than 50 per cent of the final applications had been submitted by December.

In an article in The Independent today, Mr Willetts argued for a campaign focussing on parents - persuading them of the merits of their children going to university and convincing them no-one had to pay upfront fees for courses.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Voices
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Life and Style
Gold timing: the Apple Watch Edition
tech
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor