Applications to United Kingdom universities down 4 per cent, says Ucas

Applications to United Kingdom universities down 4 per cent, says Ucas

LUCRATIVE fee-paying students from England applying to Scottish universities are at record levels despite a sharp decline south of the border, according to new figures.

Fewer people are applying to go to university in the United Kingdom and there has been a drop in numbers from European Union countries, which could be down to cost and Brexit.

Martin Fairbairn, chief operating officer of the Scottish Funding Council, said: "As with the rest of the UK, Scottish applicant numbers have fallen, but the Scottish reductions are much less than in other parts of the UK, which in part probably reflects key policy differences".

He said: "As fee-paying students, applicants from the rest of the United Kingdom are likely to be attracted to the quality of education on offer in Scotland and very high employment outcomes".

Information published by UCAS - the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service - showed that, by the June 30 deadline, there had been 649,700 applications from people of all ages, in the United Kingdom and overseas. “Continuing to communicate to European applicants that they are welcome and [that they] enrich our education system is important, ” she said.

He said: "Scotland's universities continue to attract students from around the world, with the number of non-EU global applicants increasing by 6% compared to past year - higher than the 2 per cent increase in the United Kingdom as a whole".

In a clear indication of a Brexit effect on education, the number of European Union (EU) students planning to study in the United Kingdom fell by 5 per cent over past year.

One university leader said a number of factors could be fuelling the fall, including Brexit and funding changes for trainee nurses and midwives.

Of the overall applicants, 529,620 came from within the United Kingdom, and 49,250 from the European Union - a drop of 5 per cent.

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She said the abolition of bursaries has depressed rather than increased applications for nursing and there will be no additional nurses trained in spite of ministers assurances.

Luke Humberstone, president of NUS Scotland, also welcomed the increase, but warned against charging higher fees than the current level of £9,000.

A record number of 18-year-olds in England have applied for university places - but the overall number of further education applicants has fallen.

“How these trends translate into students at university and colleges will become clear over the next six weeks as applicants get their results and secure their places, and new applicants apply direct to UCASs Clearing process.”.

"There has also been a fall in the number of 18 and 19-year-olds across the United Kingdom population since 2010".

The figures have been released a week after the Institute for Fiscal Studies reported that since the maintenance grants were abolished for students from disadvantaged families in favour of maintenance loans under the last Conservative government, the system is making poorer students more heavily indebted than their wealthier peers.

It is the first decline since fees were last increased in England, in 2012.

Increases in the cost of studying may also have been behind some of the fall, with fees going up to a maximum of £9,250 a year and the interest rate on repayments set to rise from 4.6% to 6.1%.

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