Ex-polys hit as elite mops up

February 14, 2003

Students are steering clear of some new universities and turning their backs on diploma courses, according to figures compiled by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

Civic universities used the government's removal of the cap on the maximum number of students each institution can recruit this year to fill thousands of extra places last autumn, leaving new universities to sink or swim.

Between them, the universities of Leeds and Liverpool accepted an extra 2,000 students last autumn, both boosting their intake by 19 per cent on the previous year. The University of Nottingham took 15 per cent more students, the University of Birmingham took 11 per cent more, and Bristol and Manchester universities each took 9 per cent more first-years.

Meanwhile the University of North London - now part of London Metropolitan University - saw the number of students coming through the Ucas system plummet by 29 per cent. Other big losers included Luton and South Bank universities.

Data released today, referring to applications made for entry next year, show the trend is continuing. Although some new universities and colleges have registered healthy increases, more established institutions continue to show the strongest growth.

Mike Driscoll, the incoming chair of the Coalition of Modern Universities and vice-chancellor of Middlesex University, said: "There's a perception that, overall, it's not difficult to get into university. In circumstances like these, people will chance their arms in applying for places that maybe they have got a marginal chance of getting into."

This year, higher national diplomas are proving a turn-off with applications falling 23.4 per cent nationally. Only 1,250 people applied for foundation degrees, so they do not appear separately in the data. Most future growth in higher education is expected to come through foundation degrees.

Fifteen universities and colleges have seen applications slump by 10 per cent or more by the January 15 deadline. Thames Valley University, where applications have fallen by almost 20 per cent, was the hardest hit.

The University of North London was down 14.5 per cent and London Guildhall University was down 12.9 per cent.

Roderick Floud, vice-chancellor of London Met, which was formed by the merger of these two institutions last summer, said: "We take lots of students who don't apply at this time of the year. The application rate is a very poor guide to the numbers that come in."

Lecturers' union Natfhe said the prospect of top-up fees deterred the poor, who were more likely to attend new rather than old universities. Publicity about top-up fees was at its height in the months leading up to Ucas' January application deadline for entry this autumn.

Tom Wilson, head of the universities department at Natfhe, said: "Many potential students might not know the details of the white paper, but they were put off by the intense publicity barrage.

"The fact is that the £3,000 figure for top-up fees overshadowed all of the white paper. The government raised the spectre of a far more expensive education - it shouldn't be surprised if access is the first casualty."

Talk of top-up fees could also account for the 3.6 per cent fall in applications to Imperial College London.

Its rector, Sir Richard Sykes, said last October that the college would consider charging up to £15,000 a year in tuition fees if the government allowed it.

The college later issued a clarification stating that it "has no intention of charging 'top-up' fees for UK and European Union students entering in October 2003 or October 2004 either on admission or at any time during their course".

Overall, however, members of the Russell Group appeared to be prospering.

The University of Manchester, for example, saw a 21.8 per cent rise in applications. Manchester may have benefited from the planned merger with the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, which saw applications drop by 9.9 per cent. The universities of Cambridge and Oxford were up 6.6 per cent and 5.8 per cent respectively.

The spectre of top-up fees also deterred students from taking a gap year.

Some 7.4 per cent of applicants made deferred entry applications for courses starting in 2004, compared with 7.7 per cent the previous year.

In previous years, the gap year had increased in popularity as students took a year off to earn money to help pay their way through university.

Applications to higher education courses at UK institutions 2003 
(Total includes degrees, HNDs and foundation degrees)

University

Total degrees 2003

 % change on 2002

Thames Valley

4,350

-19.4

Anglia Polytechnic University

6,025

-18.9

North London

8,386

-14.5

Wales, Newport

2,088

-13.5

Birmingham College

1,614

-13.3

London Guildhall

7,978

-12.9

South Bank

6,977

-12.9

Bournemouth

12,684

-12.1

Greenwich

12,318

-11.7

St Mary's College

2,915

-11.2

Middlesex

13,026

-11.1

Swansea IHE

2,877

-11.1

Heriot-Watt

6,957

-10.4

Surrey Institute of Art & Design

2,381

-10.1

Abertay Dundee

4,513

-10.0

UMIST

8,679

-9.9

Goldsmiths College

5,606

-9.6

Leeds Trinity And All Saints

2,972

-9.3

Brunel

18,986

-9.1

St Andrews

7,730

-8.9

King Alfred's College

4,731

-8.6

Salford

14,144

-8.6

Welsh College Music & Drama

1,262

-8.6

Bucks Chilts University College

6,412

-7.9

Loughborough

16,970

-7.9

Brighton

14,978

-7.8

East London

7,788

-7.8

College of St Mark and St John

1,932

-6.6

Robert Gordon

5,329

-6.1

Luton

4,9

-5.8

Queen's Belfast

18,231

-5.8

Westminster

16,213

-5.8

Staffordshire

10,599

-5.7

Arts Institute, Bournemouth

1,473

-5.6

Kingston

16,138

-5.6

Hull

12,519

-5.5

Canterbury Christ Church University College

5,778

-5.2

Leeds Metropolitan

21,948

-4.9

Aberdeen

11,530

-4.3

St Martin's College

3,129

-4.3

City

11,951

-4.1

Imperial College

10,328

-3.6

Sheffield

29,675

-3.6

De Montfort

17,854

-3.4

Wales, Aberystwyth

8,137

-3.2

Glasgow

24,062

-3.1

Bristol

36,457

-3.0

West of England

20,860

-3.0

Rose Bruford College

1,850

-2.9

Plymouth

15,169

-2.7

Wales Institute, Cardiff

8,647

-2.5

Edinburgh

30,115

-2.5

London Institute

5,259

-2.5

Stirling

9,072

-2.5

Coventry

14,315

-2.4

Leicester

14,664

-2.2

Falmouth College Of Arts

1,217

-1.9

Southampton Institute

7,925

-1.7

Bolton IHE

2,952

-1.3

Wales, Swansea

9,750

-1.2

Trinity College Carmarthen

1,356

-0.7

Glamorgan

7,407

-0.6

Glasgow Caledonian

13,622

-0.4

Sheffield Hallam

25,083

-0.4

University College London

22,688

-0.4

Queen Margaret University College

5,044

-0.3

Napier

7,366

-0.2

LSE

14,169

-0.1

Manchester Metropolitan

32,561

-0.1

Bradford College

1,998

+0.2

Wales, Cardiff

22,322

+0.4

Central England

11,723

+0.4

Gloucestershire

8,043

+0.6

Royal Holloway, London

8,450

+0.6

Edge Hill College

5,423

+0.8

Roehampton, Surrey

7,341

+0.9

Stranmillis University College

2,050

+0.9

Birmingham

34,752

+1.0

Liverpool Hope

5,343

+1.2

Strathclyde

16,445

+1.6

Nottingham Trent

25,823

+1.9

Bath Spa University College

6,451

+2.1

Teesside

9,131

+2.1

Sunderland

7,830

+2.2

Warwick

30,133

+2.2

Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

2,605

+2.3

University College Worcester

3,516

+2.4

SOAS

2,597

+2.6

Keele

9,673

+2.7

Paisley

5,711

+2.7

Huddersfield

11,419

+3.0

Central Lancashire

15,313

+3.2

Kent

12,763

+3.5

Lancaster

16,550

+3.5

Nottingham

48,397

+3.7

Liverpool John Moores

20,070

+3.8

University College Northampton

8,958

+4.1

Southampton

24,2

+4.3

Ulster

29,256

+4.7

Wales, Bangor

6,800

+4.9

Reading

19,123

+5.0

Exeter

21,009

+5.1

Kent Institute of Art & Design

1,988

+5.1

Oxford Brookes

16,623

+5.1

Durham

24,981

+5.3

Leeds

47,255

+5.3

Wolverhampton

12,926

+5.3

King's College London

21,176

+5.4

Oxford

12,538

+5.8

York

19,785

+5.9

Dundee

9,175

+6.0

Cambridge

13,804

+6.6

Derby

12,759

+6.7

Royal Veterinary College

1,026

+7.1

Bradford

7,631

+7.2

Bath

18,880

+8.6

Liverpool

25,125

+9.7

Wales, Medicine

3,985

+10.2

Newcastle

25,862

+10.9

School Of Pharmacy

1,119

+11.1

East Anglia

13,231

+11.2

NEWI

1,405

+13.0

Hertfordshire

13,596

+13.7

Surrey

8,191

+14.0

Sussex

11,932

+14.1

Aston

11,410

+14.4

Chester

9,486

+14.4

Northumbria

16,968

+14.5

Essex

9,462

+15.1

Harper Adams University College

1,208

+16.7

Newman College

1,542

+16.9

Queen Mary, London

15,145

+17.1

Portsmouth

16,579

+17.9

Lincoln

11,249

+19.5

Manchester

45,160

+21.8

St Georges Hospital Medical School

4,295

+29.3

University College Chichester

4,077

+29.8

York St John

3,969

+31.2

Peninsula Medical School

1,022

+53.2

Central School of Speech and Drama

2,301

+360.2

TOTAL

1,720,154

+1.3


 Source: UCAS

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