University applications drop 7.4% for 2012

The total number of applications for university entry in 2012 has dropped by 7.4 percent, but the number of applicants from outside the EU has risen 13.7 percent.

The latest figures from UCAS state 43,473 fewer people applied for a place in 2012 compared to 2011.

The biggest drops were among mature students – 13.5 percent fewer 23-year-olds applied before the January 15th deadline and there were drops of nearly ten percent or more in every age range measured above 19-years-old. However, among 18-year-olds – the most common age group to apply for university each year – the drop was just 2.6 percent.

Meanwhile the number of EU students has dropped by 11.2 percent, but non-EU student numbers have risen by 13.7 percent.

UCAS Chief Executive Mary Curnock Cook suggests despite the rise in tuition fees for the 2012 intake, there has been a drop in demand among students from more advantaged backgrounds. She said: “Our analysis shows that decreases in demand are slightly larger in more advantaged groups than in the disadvantaged groups. Widely expressed concerns about recent changes in HE funding arrangements having a disproportionate effect on more disadvantaged groups are not borne out by these data.”

Ms Cook draws attention to the gender drop differencies as being more concerning as there were 8.5 percent fewer applications from males compared to a 6.7 percent drop from females. She added: “I remain concerned about the wide and increasing gap between the application rate of men compared to women.”

Nicola Dandridge, Universities UK’s Chief Executive, claims the dip is far less than expected. She said: “While the overall number of applicants has decreased compared with the same point last year, the dip is far less dramatic than many were initially predicting. And if we look at the number of 18-year-old applicants from the UK, this has dropped by only 3.6 per cent at a time when the overall 18-year-old population is in decline.”