University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students

Sally Hunt examines UCAS's latest round of figures for university applications, and asks what they mean for the future of British higher education

 

Sally Hunt is the general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU)

Figures released today by the university admissions service UCAS show that university applications have fallen by nearly nine per cent on this time last year.

With fees rising to up to £9,000 per year, the impact has been biggest for England’s universities – down by 9.9 per cent, while in Scotland there was a fall of 1.5 per cent.

UCU has long warned that making England the most expensive country in the world in which to gain a public degree would deter people from applying to university and today’s figures lend weight to that argument.

While the overall figure for applications in England has plummeted by ten per cent the number is higher still among mature students, with over 13,000 (11 per cent) fewer applying to university.

This in itself is a very worrying development. Over one in four students who apply to university are mature students with many looking to get back in to education in order to improve their qualifications and chances of long-term employment.

The government should be making it easier for people in this situation to have a second chance but seem intent on making it harder.

While ministers have been quick to defend the new fees regime as fairer and more progressive it is neither and will simply penalise those with ambition.

Perhaps it is not surprising that our best and brightest are being tempted abroad to study. The University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, for example, is reporting a surge in applications from Brits.

Looking ahead, 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.

See also:

Coalition should heed Obama’s advice on higher education – not slash teaching grantsSally Hunt, January 25th 2012

Will 2012 see the first university bankruptcy?Alex Hern, January 8th 2012

A small mercy for the marching students of tomorrowLaura McInerney, November 9th 2011

University applications down 9 per cent on 2011Sally Hunt, October 24th 2011

Rich kids will pay less student debt than middle classesSally Hunt, September 20th 2011

22 Responses to “University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students”

  1. Political Planet

    University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students: Sally Hunt examines UCAS's latest round of… //t.co/rHeyihhh

  2. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students //t.co/RHV3fzky

  3. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students //t.co/cLf4IJdR

  4. G. Jackie Milesi F.

    #UK : University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students //t.co/Z6SxEi3B

  5. Julian

    Your argument would carry more weight if you hadn’t deliberately chosen to compare just against last year’s numbers. It is well known, and understandable, that last year’s intake was particularly high because of students getting in ahead of the fees increase. i.e. This year’s intake was bound to be lower.

  6. David Warren

    What did Blair say all those years ago? Oh yes, “Education, education, education.” And then he had the bright idea of introducing university tuition fees, and whipped his MPs from Scotland and Wales to vote for it when he couldn’t get enough votes from his MPs in England, and those MPs from Scotland and Wales knew damned well that their constituents wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences. Cheers, Tone.

  7. 45 Apples

    RT @leftfootfwd: University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students, writes @ucu's Sally Hunt: //t.co/B7LG1cUt

  8. Charles Addison

    And your gripe is that they were Scottish or that they were Labour?

  9. Charles Addison

    That doesn’t explain the regional differences.

  10. Nigel Shoosmith

    University applications down 9%. As anyone with more than ½ a brain (ie anyone not ConDem) knew long ago. Surprised? //t.co/F4R32Eh5

  11. Nigel Shoosmith

    The University of Maastricht reporting a surge in applications from Brits. Get out now, kids. Nothing for you here. //t.co/IOsQbF7D

  12. Christian Wilcox

    Mature Students are not willing to take on the debt of Uni now: //t.co/S03lBbU1. That's not good. We're losing skills. #Croydon #Labour

  13. Girl Interrupted

    University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students, writes @ucu's Sally Hunt: //t.co/SyVMeGjk

  14. Patrick

    How exactly do fees “put up barriers?” Students don’t have to start repayments until after they graduate, after they find a job, and above a certain salary. So why is it “harder” for anyone to attend? It’s exactly the same. To read these articles you’d think that students were being asked to stump up £15K in a lump sum at the start of the course.

  15. David Warren

    No, my gripe is that they imposed something on England that the devolved legislatures wouldn’t dare impose on their own countries. At the same time, those MPs from Scotland and Wales knew that no voters in England could vote them out next time. Finally, no MP who had free university tuition had any business pulling up the ladder after them.

  16. Islingtonmillacademy

    University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students, writes @ucu's Sally Hunt: //t.co/SyVMeGjk

  17. Andre Knulst

    University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students //t.co/yWr5uKah

  18. Adam

    And you seem to have the same short-sightedness the Tories have. Have you ever entertained the possibility that knowing the huge amount they have to repay after will put them off?

  19. Newsbot9

    They are.

    And when the loan instalments for many students are late again, there’s no chance they’ll be able to come up with them – already a massive problem, but now something which is going to become even worse and it’s going to hurt even MORE perfectly good student’s education.

    Thanks for supporting that.

    And that’s before you realise that losing money to go to University is dumb.

  20. Political Me UK

    University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students, writes @ucu's Sally Hunt: //t.co/SyVMeGjk

  21. Ed's Talking Balls

    Labour’s fees were good. The Coalition’s fees are evil. Clearly you didn’t get the memo.

  22. The next sub-prime crisis may be an educational lesson just a little too late | Left Foot Forward

    […] See also: • University applications down nine per cent, more for mature students 30 Jan […]

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