UCAS applications data Nov 2011

28 November 2011

Commenting on the release of UCAS data on university applications so far for 2012 entry, Russell Group Director General, Dr Wendy Piatt, said:

“Whilst it is still too early in the application cycle to predict how many people will eventually apply to enter higher education in autumn 2012, today’s figures suggest that many thousands of future students already recognise the benefits of going to university.  And many more will apply before the final deadline – applications made by this point in the year only account for a small proportion of the final total.

“It would be no real surprise if overall applications through UCAS are somewhat lower for 2012 entry than for 2011, but we shouldn’t rush to assume that this is due to higher fees.  For one thing, demographic change means there will be fewer 18-year olds leaving school or college in 2012 than in 2011.  We also know that in 2011 there was a drop in numbers opting for a ‘gap year’, meaning more applications in 2011, and fewer applications for 2012 entry. Current 2012 figures are actually very similar to figures at the same point in 2010. The decrease in the number of Scottish applicants to Scottish universities, where there are no fees, also shows that decrease in England cannot simply be explained by the new fees and funding system.  Past experience is that any fall in applications in the first year of higher fees may well be followed by increases in subsequent years.

“Students should certainly not be put off university by financial considerations. If you’re good enough to get in, you can afford to go. With no up-front fees, repayments only when they’re affordable and generous help with living costs, money worries shouldn’t stop anyone from applying. About one in three Russell Group students receive a bursary or scholarship that never has to be repaid, and our universities will be pumping millions more into financial support over the coming years. We will continue to urge every student with the talent, potential and ability to succeed at a Russell Group university to apply.

“There has been much misinformation about the effect of fees on access. Since the introduction of fees, Russell Group universities have attracted more students than ever from non-traditional backgrounds. We are concerned that the often overheated debate around university finance has encouraged further such misperceptions among many young people and their families. In the end, going to a good university is a sound investment. Most graduates earn a considerable salary premium over those with two A-levels, and Russell Group graduates typically receive a 10% salary top-up over others.”

Notes to editors

  1. With the introduction of English ‘top-up fees’ in 2006, applications decreased by 4.5% but were followed by a 7.1% increase in 2007 and a 10.1% increase in 2009. (Source: UUK, variable tuition fees in England: assessing their impact on students and higher education institutions http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/Publications/Documents/VariableTuitionFees_FourthReport.pdf)
  2. By 2015-16 Russell Group universities in England plan to spend £153.7million of their additional fee income on financial support for students. This represents an average per institution of £9.6million with some of our universities spending as much as £17million. Overall, this amounts to over £5.9million more per institution than the sector average of £3.7million.  This investment will be targeted so that those in most need of financial support receive the help they need.
  3. In 2015-16 the £28.8million which Russell Group Universities will spend on outreach measures will be used to support numerous summer schools, open days, special entry routes and access programmes to give students from lower socio-economic groups the best possible chance of winning a place.
  4. The proportion of students from state schools at Russell Group universities has increased from 68.3% in 1997, to 74.5% in the most recent year. This growth in state school pupils is faster than for UK universities as a whole, where the proportion grew from 81.8% to 88.5%. (Source:  HESA Performance Indicators, Table 1a: Percentage of young first degree students entering higher education.)

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