Reporter 415, 23 February 1998


Mature students think twice

Applications for entry to universities and colleges in autumn 1998 are down by 2.7% on last year according to figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) on February 13.

While the decrease is smaller than the 6% fall indicated by provisional figures issued by UCAS immediately after the December deadline there has been a sharp drop in applications from mature students.

Applications from students over 24 were 18.3 per cent down on last year, compared to a drop of 1.9 per cent in applications from under-21s. UCAS chief executive Tony Higgins said school-leavers appeared to be undeterred by the introduction of tuition fees of up to £1,000, “but potential mature students may include people out of work, whose employment prospects may not be so good even after qualifications. Others are also likely to have bigger financial commitments.”

CVCP chief executive Diana Warwick said the overall decrease should be set against the 26,000 extra students admitted above planned targets to universities and colleges last year. There has been a 79 per cent increase in English students applying to join the final three years of Scottish university courses, avoiding the fourth year fee from which Scottish and other EU students will be exempt.

Leeds is still first in terms of home applications, with 37,331, and second overall when international students are taken into account. The University has seen a 2.8 per cent fall in applications overall.

Changes in applications figures to universities across the country have varied dramatically on last year, from Buckingham with a fall of 25 per cent to Thames Valley University with an increase of 38 per cent. ‘Old’ and new universities have been equally affected, according to a survey published by the THES on February 13.

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