ALL academic subjects with the exception of agriculture are suffering from a fall in applications, the Universities and Colleges Admission Service warned this week.
A straw poll by The THES reveals a very uneven picture at universities around the country. This could mean serious money problems for some institutions, especially in the light of financial forecasts published this week by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
These predict deficits across the sector by 2000, with some institutions much worse off than others. HEFCE says it is too early to say how far the forecasts may be affected by falling applications, but that this will be reviewed over the next couple of months.
The THES poll shows demand buoyant at York University. Early applications are up 15 per cent against a downturn at Durham of 30 per cent. Applications have closed at Oxford and Cambridge and both are reporting little change although nationally applications dropped by 16 per cent on this time last year, according to the first figures produced by UCAS.
Durham had received 2,889 applicants by the end of last week compared with 4,129 this time last year. John Hogan, head of admissions, said: "This is obviously a worrying trend as our applications have been increasingly slightly over recent years. There are some subjects for which we receive far too many applications but if the downturn was hitting science and engineering then we would be concerned."
Lancaster University said its applications were 10 per cent down, Derby has dipped 6 per cent and a small downturn had been detected at Liverpool John Moores. Exeter University said its applications were up 8 per cent and a modest increase was reported at Bradford.
Forecasts, page 6