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University Applications Fall: The Statistics Explained

The final figures for applications to British universities were released yesterday, revealing an expected drop in student numbers. There was a 7.4% decrease in applications since last year, with overall numbers dropping to 540,000. However, whilst many of the statistics make grim reading fro British universities, the report revealed that non-EU international numbers actually increased by a massive 13.7%.

With the deadline for UK and EU students passing last week, the report by university admissions organisation UCAS was eagerly awaited. Next year is the first year of increased tuition fees, and many experts were predicting huge falls in applications. However, in the end, although there was a significant drop, the figures were not as alarming as many of these estimates had predicted.

Indeed, a number of important figures in UK Higher Education were actually quite optimistic. Universities UK pointed out that the "dip is far less dramatic than many were initially predicting", whilst Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group of leading universities, explained:

"Despite all the hype, fee reforms are unlikely to cause a long-term decline in applications. In the past a fall in applications in the first year of higher fees has been followed by increases in subsequent years."

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Increase in International Student Applications

The latest university application figures for UK courses starting in 2012 have been revealed by UCAS, showing an increase in non-EU students. Whilst British and European applicants have fallen by 7.6% and 11% respectively, international student applications have risen by 13% compared to the same time last year.

With tuition fees tripling for UK and EU students from 2012 onwards, there has been a particular focus on application figures this year. The latest statistics show the number of undergraduate applications made by the middle of December 2011, and there are certainly some interesting changes since the same time in 2010.

EU and British Students Unsure

For EU students, the huge increases in fees have clearly had a negative impact. Applications to institutions in England, Ireland and Wales (all of which have fees of up to £9,000) have dropped by an average of almost 15%, whilst applicants to Scottish universities (which offer free tuition to EU students) have actually increased by 7.6%. This is matched by a similar trend in British students who also appear to be reluctant to apply with the increased fees.

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