Student leaders say government should ‘finally admit higher education policies are having significant impact’ on applications

Tim Lezard

Student leaders have warned that Coalition government policies, especially on university tuition fees, are having a ‘significant’ effect in driving down the number of applications to the country’s universities.

Official figures show 12,000 fewer students applied for places at English universities beginning in 2013 compared to this year’s intake – a drop of 8.4%.

Analysis of new figures from UCAS shows applications were down 23.6% year-on-year in England over the two years since students started applying for courses with tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year.

NUS president Liam Burns said: “These are early numbers, there is still time for them to recover and I hope they do, but significant early drops in applications in England were sustained throughout last year, unlike in Scotland and Wales.

“The government should now finally admit that its higher education policies are having a significant impact on application behaviour.

“We have always said that students and their families aren’t walking calculators capable of working out how much they are likely to repay based on hypothetical future earnings.

“Regardless of the repayment terms and the small print, students were always going to be deterred by £9,000 tuition fees.

“Those who do make it to university are struggling to make ends meet.

“Financial support is not reaching the right students when they need it, so we can’t let this debate focus solely on funding for institutions without also questioning how the system of student finance currently operates.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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