Universities spent less on advertising in clearing for the third year running this summer, while the use of the web took off, according to Riley Research's annual report on clearing.
More than four million "hits" were made on the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service website between August 19 and September 19. "In the future there will be less paper-based information and ultimately electronic applications," said UCAS chief executive Tony Higgins.
Admissions tutors said students were coming to them better informed as a result of using the web. It was announced this week that nine universities and colleges are to pilot a web-based scheme aimed at cutting drop-out rates.
UCAS will pilot its service at the universities of Plymouth, West of England, Hull, Hertfordshire and the University of Wales College of Medicine. City College Manchester, Plymouth College of Art and Design, Harper Adams University College and Southampton Institute will also take part.
The aim is to help prospective students build an accurate picture of what to expect on courses. UCAS institutions spent more than Pounds 5 million advertising courses in the press, on television, radio and teletext, a decline of about 10 per cent on last year.
Riley argues that this is because institutions are using year-round marketing strategies. Just under 55 per cent advertised in the national press between August 10 and September 17 at a cost of Pounds 3,464,743. Although this was nearly 13 per cent below last year, it was still 136 per cent higher than in 1992.
De Montfort topped the list of big spenders in the national press for the fourth year running.
Analysis, pages 8-9