Second year’s slump in university applicants ‘should ring alarm bells’
Think tank issues warning as student union blames high fees
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Wednesday 28 November 2012
University applications have plummeted for the second year running, prompting a warning that “alarm bells should be ringing” in government over the slump.
The latest figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) reveal an eight per cent drop in applications to 145,009 compared with last year.
This follows an even larger slump last year – when candidates faced tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year for the first time – with overall numbers falling from 140,983 to 119,548. The figures also show a slight drop in applications from international students outside the UK (who often have to pay full-cost fees) of 0.8 per cent to 15,863 and 0.9 per cent from European Union students to 8,952.
A slump in applications was forecast last year as thousands of would-be students gave up gap years to start university courses in 2011 to avoid paying higher fees when they were introduced this September.
University vice-chancellors and Ucas stressed it was “early days” to read too much into the figures. But Pam Tatlow, chief executive of university think tank million+, warned that “alarm bells should be ringing in Government”. She said: “It would be a travesty if students and their families stopped seeing university for what it is – an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not just to improve career and employment prospects, but for inspiring lifelong interests and experiences.”
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “It is rather concerning that the number of people applying to university appears to be continuing to fall. The bottom line is that hiking fees up to £9,000 a year will put people off. Erecting punitive financial barriers is not the way to encourage the best and brightest to get on.”
However, Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of Ucas, said: “Experience tells us that changes at this point in the cycle are a poor guide to final demand. For example, in the 2012 cycle, the decrease in applications in November was much greater than the final picture in January – possibly because applicants were making more considered decisions about their higher education choices after the tuition fee changes in 2012.”
Israel-Gaza crisis: YouTube footage shows scale of destruction after 50 days of shelling
Keira Knightley topless: Conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
iPhone 6 'hidden code' could indicate sharper screens or bigger phones
Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
Ebola virus: It's ripped through towns – now the deadliest ever outbreak of the virus is heading for Africa's teeming cities
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- 1 Unseen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter deemed 'too subversive' released
- 2 Ebola virus: It's ripped through towns – now the deadliest ever outbreak of the virus is heading for Africa's teeming cities
- 3 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: We are currently recruiting ...
£100 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education are curren...
£65 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: DT Technician required to start...
£10 - £11 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: Nursery Manager We are loo...