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
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
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

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Assessor / Trainer

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Manager - London - £200 p/d.

£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum