Oxbridge applications stay high as students demand better value

Figures suggest that £9,000 fees have shifted interest away from less selective institutions

Tuition fees of up to £9,000 have made students more demanding about the quality of their education, according to figures showing a rise in applications to Cambridge at the expense of less selective universities.

Figures from Cambridge University show a 3 per cent increase in applications from state school pupils this year – bucking the national trend for university applications which have seen a 10 per cent decline.

The statistics indicate that in the first year of the £9,000 cap on fees, students are increasingly concerned about value for money.

As one Cambridge source put it: "It seems the message is – if you've got to pay £9,000, why not go for the best?"

Overall, Cambridge applications have gone up by 2 per cent this year to 15,675. The biggest rises are among overseas students (12 per cent) and state school students (3 per cent).

Applications from the UK as a whole are almost unchanged, while those from students in the EU, who have to pay the same fees as UK students, have slumped by 7 per cent.

At Oxford, there has been a slight decline of less than 3 per cent in all categories, which, again is much less than the average drop for the UK. The number of UK applicants offered places, though, has risen slightly – from 2,862 to 2,898.

The figures will be welcomed by ministers as a vindication of their new fees regime. Only last week, the Universities minister, David Willetts, spoke of his determination to ensure that no student was put off going to university on the grounds of cost.

The upshot, though, is that competition for places at Oxbridge is as competitive as ever, with about 12,000 students expected to get A* passes at A-level still being rejected by the two universities.

Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the Centre for Education and Employment at Buckingham University, said the reasons for Oxbridge's success in attracting applications "may be a bit complicated" – many students may now be thinking "why not?" in terms of applying to Oxbridge, now that fees have soared.

"I think there have been serious attempts to get students applying from a wider range of schools and I think this must have had an effect," he said. "Also, people who had a reasonable chance of getting into Oxbridge have continued to apply whereas, across the system generally, people were getting on a conveyor belt and thinking it was good to go to university no matter which course or which university they applied to.

"Now they're making a substantial contribution, which is actually repayable through their taxes, I think they're thinking much more seriously about the value of their courses and that's not an issue that's necessarily driven them before."

A spokesman for Cambridge University said: "We believe that these figures represent the University of Cambridge's long-standing commitment to recruiting the ablest and best qualified students with the greatest academic potential from every background.

Many students will be eligible for bursaries of up to £3,500 a year while fee waivers of £6,000 a year are available under a national scholarship scheme aimed at helping students from poorer backgrounds.

Meanwhile, four universities have officially joined the Russell Group – which represent the UK's leading higher education research institutions, bringing the total membership to 24. They are Durham, Exeter, York and Queen Mary, London.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • 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

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss