Large drop in early university applications

The number of people applying to universities in the UK as part of the main applications cycle has fallen by 14 per cent compared with last year, new figures show.

November 28, 2012

According to the latest statistics from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, there were 8.4 per cent fewer applicants to UK institutions at 19 November this year compared with the same point last year.

However, these figures include those who must apply to university by October each year - such as applicants to Oxbridge and medical schools - which have remained relatively steady year-on-year.

When these statistics are taken out of the figures, the number of applicants to other universities and courses has fallen by 14,513 or 14.1 per cent.

This is despite last year's applicants being the first to face tuition fees of up to £9,000, a factor some thought would cause a one-off dip in applications.

There is still more than a month before the final 15 January deadline faced by most applicants, so the statistics could reflect a decision by more people to delay their application.

In November 2011, the statistics show the number of applicants had dropped by 12.9 per cent compared with 2010, but this gap had narrowed by January 2011.

However, some in the sector have warned that if these latest figures represent a sustained year-on-year fall in applications, it could raise serious questions about the government's policy to triple tuition fees.

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the Million+ group of new universities, said: "It is very early in the applications cycle and many potential students take time to explore their options but alarm bells should be ringing in government.

"There is now a real risk that the trend towards widening opportunities that has been a feature of university admissions in recent years will be thrown into reverse."

Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students, said although the data represented "early numbers" the government "should now finally admit that its higher education policies are having a significant impact on application behaviour".

But Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said people should "refrain" from drawing too many conclusions from the latest figures.

"Prospective students still have a month and a half to make their applications in time for the Ucas deadline in mid-January.

"This time last year predictions were being made that demand would drop rapidly, but by January applicant figures had rallied and overall applications by the end of the cycle were not down by as much as many had feared."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: "It is too early in this year's application cycle to drawn any firm conclusions.

"Numbers are down across the devolved administrations and November has historically been a poor guide to changes in applications at the 15 January deadline as Ucas make clear in their publication."

simon.baker@tsleducation.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 10 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

Featured Jobs

Research Grant Writer UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER
Senior Manager (Projects and Space) ST MARYS UNIVERSITY, TWICKENHAM
Academic Solutions Assistant UNIVERSITY OF GREENWICH

Most Commented

Elly Walton illustration (7 July 2016)

Researchers in the liberal arts seem to have made it their mission to communicate in the most obscure fashion, says Zachary Foster

Daniel Mitchell illustration (14 July 2016)

Frank Furedi says the mournful mood on campus and the disparagement and silencing of Leave supporters betray an isolated scholarly class

Michael Parkin illustration (7 July 2016)

Rising immigration-related costs and lack of employer support send an unwelcoming message to international staff, says Jason Danely

Female Brazilian football/soccer fan celebrating with flag of Brazil, Best universities in Latin America

Brazil leads Times Higher Education’s debut ranking of the top universities in Latin America

People walk past second hand books for sale

Shift may be evidence that researchers feel they are increasingly judged on citations and journal impact factors