Applications to English universities fall by 10%, Scottish fall by 5.6%


The increase in tuition fees is to blame for today’s announcement that ten per cent fewer people have applied to English universities compared to this time last year, say unions.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Today’s figures are very worrying and once again highlight the government’s folly in raising tuition fees to as much as £9,000 a year. Applications in England are down over 50% more than in any other part of the UK as a result of the government making it the most expensive country in the world in which to gain a public degree.

“We cannot afford a system that puts people off university if we are to compete in the modern world. Other countries are encouraging their best and brightest to get on, not putting up punitive barriers. This government risks returning us to a time when money, not ability, mattered most for success.”

NUS president Liam Burns said: “At a time when jobs are in short supply and youth unemployment has increased dramatically, the full impact of the Government’s changes to higher education funding cannot be fully understood until we know which groups of students have applied and been accepted to particular types of university.

“Factors such as wealth, geographical location and age will all have to be understood first to prevent human potential being wasted as a result of the chaotic changes to higher education that ministers have instigated.”

“What we’ve seen is a particularly worrying drop in the number of those aged over 21 making applications. These are likely to be unemployed people looking to gain skills for work, those who had been shut out by student number controls, or those with a range of other financial commitments and pressures.”

“Applications from Welsh and Scottish students have been far less affected, reflecting the commitment their national Governments have made to protect young people from an increase in the price-tag on an education.”

“There is still time for those thinking of making an application to consider their options. It would be a disaster if anyone was to feel unable to go to university because of a lack of clarity about the financial support available to them.”

The number of English students applying to Scottish universities has fallen 5.6%, with the number of Scots applicants to English universities falling by 16.4%.

From this autumn UK students from outside of Scotland will face fees of up to £9 000 a year, as will Scottish students studying elsewhere in the UK.

UCU Scotland president Gordon Watson, said: “These figures show the folly of the new fees regime and of allowing Scottish universities a free hand to hike up fees for students from the rest of the UK.

“While we are pleased that that education is free for Scottish domiciled students, we remain very concerned at the introduction of a market for other UK students. Universities should be ensuring education provision not maximising profit.

“While Scotland has seen a far smaller drop in university applications compared to the rest of the UK, higher fees south of the border appear to be forcing many students here to study locally instead of choosing courses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that may be better suited to them.”

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