Higher fees have not dampened long-term demand, says Ucas

Higher tuition fees in the UK have not slowed the long-term trend of increasing demand for university education, according to a new analysis by Ucas.

November 7, 2014

The admissions service also says that the introduction of £9,000 fees in 2012 does not appear to have increased inequality in the sector by adversely affecting those from poorer backgrounds.

Mark Corver, Ucas’s head of analysis and research, says application rates among school leavers did fall by about 5 per cent in 2012-13 before returning to the long-term trend of increasing demand, with rises in 2013-14 and again in 2014-15, and demand now at the highest-ever levels.

“It is likely that application rates remain a little below what they would have been if higher fees had not been introduced,” says Dr Corver, in an analysis published on 7 November.

However, he concludes that £9,000 fees did not reduce young people’s chances of entering higher education.

This is because around half of the initial drop in recruitment was down to a significantly larger proportion of students who applied prior to the introduction of higher fees choosing to attend straight away, during 2011-12, rather than deferring to 2012-13, Dr Corver says. Meanwhile, the proportion of 18- and 19-year-olds entering higher education has continued to increase.

“By 2013, universities and colleges were making more offers to applicants and being more flexible in entry requirements,” Dr Corver adds. “The acceptance rate increased and many young A-level applicants were entering universities and colleges at a rate that, in 2011, would have needed a single extra grade across their three A levels.” 

The Ucas analysis also concludes that inequality among university entrants has reduced since higher tuition fees were introduced, despite concern that increased costs would have the opposite effect.

“Neither application rates nor entry rates have shown any differential effect by background,” says Dr Corver. “This has allowed the trend of stronger growth in demand and entry from the most disadvantaged to continue.”

There has been no trend of poorer applicants moving away from courses with higher fees, Dr Corver adds.

The analysis was welcomed by Liz Shutt, head of policy for the University Alliance.

“This timely analysis clearly demonstrates that students are not being dissuaded by the increase in fees since 2012 and are actually entering higher education in record numbers,” she said.

However, Ms Shutt argued that poorer students would “always be disadvantaged in a system that restricts places” and said the lifting of the cap on student numbers for 2015-16 would make a vital contribution to improving equality.

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

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
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest