UCAS figures show drop in higher education applications from UK and EU

Thursday 02-02-2017 - 11:55

NUS responds to analysis of latest ‘deadline data’ published by UCAS today, which reveals that applications have fallen by five per cent for UK students and seven per cent for EU students.

UCAS has today published its analysis of full-time undergraduate applications made by the 15 January deadline – the first reliable indicator for UK higher education for the 2017.

Sorana Vieru, NUS Vice President (Higher Education) said: “These figures are disappointing, but unsurprising. Uncertainty around increases in tuition fees, loss of maintenance grants and the rising costs of living and studying at university are too much of a risk to some potential students.

“The 7 per cent decline in applications of students from the EU after the referendum result should be seen as a warning that studying in the UK is a considerably less attractive option than it was 12 months ago. It is unacceptable for Theresa May to use EU students as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations. To help reverse this worrying decline, she must take international students out of net migration figures.

“It is encouraging to hear that level of widening participation undergraduate applications has increased – education is a crucial lifeline for many people from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, barriers to education do not stop at the campus edge. Students still face many challenges once they start their course. The new Teaching Excellence Framework, directly linked to raising tuition fees, will only make these worse for students from poorer backgrounds.”

Fewer adult learners in England and Wales

One of the most worrying drops in applications are those made by adult learners in England and Wales. This group has seen the largest decrease in applications in the last year, falling by nine per cent for 19 and 20 year-olds, 15 per cent for 21 to 24 year-olds and 23 per cent for those aged 25 and over.

Whilst it is too early to make any final assessments on the reasons for this fall, the rising costs of further and higher education for adult learners are likely to have played a substantial role.

We know that this group are traditionally more debt adverse and the introduction of advanced learner loans for level three courses from the age of 19 means that adult learners have already taken on a considerable amount of debt before they even consider higher education. 

Nursing numbers down after bursaries dispute

Meanwhile, responding to the decrease in student nurse applicants, Shelly Asquith, NUS Vice President (Welfare), said: “It is alarming but not surprising to hear that student nurse applicants have fallen by over 20 per cent. This September will see the first cohort of nursing students without government bursaries; a cut that NUS fought against at every stage.

“Nursing students are more likely to be women, mature students, Black, and have caring responsibilities. They are not free to take on paid work because they are committed to mandatory placements that run throughout the year. The government are gambling with the lives of students and, in the light of the current workforce crisis, the future of the NHS.”

More information about today’s applicant data analysis can be found on the UCAS website.


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