The 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.
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."