University applications down 9.9%

StudentsThe number of students in England applying to university has slumped by almost 10%, official figures have shown.

The latest UCAS statistics reveal that almost 12,000 fewer people living in England have applied to start degree courses in autumn 2013.
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In total, 107,687 potential university students have already submitted their applications, the figures show, compared with 119,548 who had applied by this point last year, meaning there has been a 9.9% fall in applications comparing 2013 with 2012.

Students planning to start degree courses next autumn will pay tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year after the hike, which saw maximum fees tripled, was introduced this autumn.

The UCAS figures show that overall, applications from UK and overseas students are down by 8.4% compared with the same point last year.

UCAS chief executive Mary Curnock Cook said: "Although the number of applicants to UK higher education is down by 8% on this time last year, experience tells us that changes at this point in the cycle are a poor guide to final demand."

Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students said these were early figures, and he hoped they would recover, but added: "Regardless of the repayment terms and the small print, students were always going to be deterred by £9,000 tuition fees."

The figures also show: applications by Scottish students are down 10.5%; those by students in Northern Ireland have fallen by 9.3%; applications by those living in Wales have dropped by 8.7%; and applications from EU students are down 0.9% and those from individuals from countries outside of the EU have fallen 0.8%.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of vice-chancellors' group Universities UK, said: "Prospective students still have a month-and-a-half to make their applications in time for the UCAS deadline in mid-January."

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. Everyone expected a drop last year after people postponed gap years in 2011 to get into university before higher fees. The bottom line is that hiking fees up to £9,000 a year will put people off."
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