The UCAS admissions service has released figures showing that
applications to UK universities
have risen 2.5% in comparison to the same time last year. The levels are still sitting below those of 2010 and 2011, but have increased since 2012, when application numbers dropped dramatically due to increased
. There had been fears that the price increases were going to lead to a year on year reduction of
due to financial difficulties, however the 2013 April application figures would suggest that this is not the case, with around 15,000 more applications being submitted than last year. The rise in applicants was seen in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but there was a decline in numbers in Wales.
The number of EU and non EU students applying to study in the UK also rose this year, and this was seen as a very welcome recovery as it was feared that the higher fees had negatively impacted the viability and affordability of foreign students attending UK universities. When investigating application patterns for the last few years, it seems very difficult to work out the true reasoning behind the rise and fall of applicants as current figures are well above those from 2009 and below those from 2010, and the same patterns have been seen in Scotland, where tuition fees are not applicable in the same way.
David Willetts, universities minister, said “these encouraging figures show that the desire to learn at university is still strong. Higher education remains a good long term investment that transforms lives.” This is good news for individual universities as well as the economy as a whole, as we need high numbers of people to gain the top qualifications in order to benefit the future of the economy. Forecasters had predicted the fee increases to result in a continued decrease in places being filled, and any courses being run with empty places is not good news for universities. Willetts also said “the rise in applications indicates that potential students understand how the new student finance system works. They do not have to pay fees upfront, there is more financial support for poorer families, and loan repayments will be lower for everyone once they start earning.”