Careerist mentality rises with top-ups

February 17, 2006

Students are shunning many traditional academic subjects in the humanities and social sciences in favour of degrees that they believe will increase their chances of landing jobs, application figures for the first courses to carry top-up fees showed this week.

Numbers applying to study history have fallen by more than 8 per cent, languages with arts and humanities combinations by 9.1 per cent and fine art and music by 11 per cent, data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show.

In contrast, the number of applications to many subjects more obviously geared to a career rose. Nursing attracted 15.4 per cent more applications, social work 7.4 per cent more, subjects allied to medicine 8.8 per cent more and pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacy 9.6 per cent more.

Signs of a possible top-up fee effect also emerged at national level. The number of applications to UK universities slipped 3.4 per cent, but applications by English students to universities in England, which will charge fees of up to £3,000 a year from this autumn, fell by 4.5 per cent.

Applications to Scottish and Welsh institutions, which will not charge top-ups, are up by 1.6 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.

The number of applications to many post-92 universities rose. The popularity of these institutions was attributed to factors including their more vocational subject mix and their focus on local recruitment as debt-averse students increasingly seek to live at home.

Applications to the University of East London rose by 7.4 per cent. Michael Thorne, the vice-chancellor, said: "Students are becoming good at spotting the relationship between programmes and career opportunities."

Karyn Brinkley, pro vice-chancellor of Bolton University, where applications have jumped by 50.2 per cent, said: "It makes sense that students are heading towards more vocationally oriented institutions."

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of Campaigning for Mainstream Universities, the lobby group for post-92 universities, said: "There is no doubt that courses that lead directly to jobs have proved popular."

The number of applications from overseas students from outside the European Union, who pay full fees, dropped by 4.3 per cent. But applications from the EU rose by 14 per cent.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Professor of Military Technology THE SWEDISH DEFENCE UNIVERSITY
Director of Digital Services STAFFORDSHIRE UNIVERSITY
Technician for Psychology Programmes ST MARYS UNIVERSITY, TWICKENHAM

Most Commented

Home secretary says government will support 'best' universities

Man handing microphone to audience member

Academic attainment of disadvantaged students can be improved if they can decide how they are assessed, study claims

Woman drinking tea from saucer

Plugging a multibillion-pound deficit exacerbated by June’s poll result may require ‘drastic measures’, analysts have warned

PhD lettered on book spine

Billy Bryan and Furaha Asani look at how to get the most out of your doctoral studies

Italy's gold medallist

New measures to ensure universities are ‘not penalised’ for taking poorer students also outlined for next stage of TEF