University fees don't deter young

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The Independent Online
FEARS THAT university tuition fees would deter young people from entering higher education had proved groundless, the head of the admissions service said yesterday.

Latest figures from the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) show overall applications slightly down on this time last year, but slightly up among under-21s.

Applications from mature students, however, were still well down on last year, despite Ministers' insistence that a late surge would fill the shortfall. Applications from the 21-24 age group were down by 11.5 per cent on last year, and were 15 per cent down among over-25s.

The figures come just days after Education Secretary David Blunkett faced a Commons revolt over legislation to introduce the fees of up to pounds 1,000 a year. Ministers insisted that students would view the fees as a good investment.

Tony Higgins, UCAS chief executive, said: "Initial fears that tuition fees would put off young people from applying for higher education have proved groundless. Our most up-to-date figures show that the number of UK under 21s applying is now up on last year."

The overall shortfall has steadily declined since December because of a flow of late applications.