UK: University applications fall by 9 per cent

UK: Applications for university courses for 2012 are down 9 per cent compared to those for this year, the admission service for students Ucas said today.

The number of applicants has fallen from 76,612 students at this stage for 2011 to 69,724 for 2012.

Ucas published the data following an October 15 deadline for applications to medicine, dentistry and veterinary courses at Oxford and Cambridge, but also included the number of students who have applied so far for other university courses, which have a January 15 application deadline.

Unions representing university students and lecturers accused the Government’s higher education policies of scaring off applicants.

Last November the Government published a funding plan allowing universities to charge students tuition fees of up to �9,000.

The previous month the Treasury announced that the teaching budget for higher education, excluding research funding, would be cut by �2.9 billion, or 40%, over the next four years.

National Union of Students vice-president Toni Pearce said today: “The indication is that the confusion caused by the Government’s botched reforms is causing young people to, at the very least, hesitate before applying to university.

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“Ministers must stop tinkering around the edges of their shambolic reforms, listen to students, teachers and universities, and completely overhaul their white paper before temporary chaos turns into permanent damage to our education system.”

Sally Hunt, general secretary for the University and College Union, which represents more than 120,000 academic staff in post-school education, said: “The Government’s fee policies have been a complete mess from day one.

“First, the Government promised that fees of more than �6,000 a year would be the exception rather than the rule, but budgeted for an average fee of �7,500.

“As everyone predicted, the average fee was far higher than that and, even more predictably, the number of students applying to university has dropped.”