University applications from UK students have plummeted in the second admissions cycle following the introduction of higher tuition fees. UCAS admissions data from mid-December showed that applications from Welsh students saw the biggest drop of all UK students.
However, a UCAS spokesperson told The Cambridge Student that the final application figures were to be published on 30 January and "[i]t is only then that we will have a clear picture of demand for higher education this year." The trebling of tuition fees led to an 8% drop in applications in the 2012 admissions cycle.
The interim figures were released by UCAS on 17 December, by which time 265,730 people living in the UK had applied to start degree courses this autumn, down 6.3% from the same point in 2012. While applications from students living in Scotland fell by 3.9%, applications from students in Wales saw the largest drop, by 11.7%.
Applications from students in England went down by 6.5%. Against this trend, application figures for students in Northern Ireland marginally increased by 0.5%.
Commenting on the application figures, an Oxford University spokesman said to TCS: "Applications to Oxford itself have remained roughly steady for the last 3-4 years, after at least a decade of year-on-year growth. We believe that the steady applications over the last two rounds reflect an understanding that, in the new fees regime, Oxford is outstanding value, is no more expensive than any other university, and offers an exceptionally generous financial support package for lower-income students."
The imbalance between male and female participation in higher education has further increased, with the number of male applicants decreasing by a larger margin than in the case of female applicants. However, university acceptance figures also show that the proportion of English students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering universities with the highest entry requirements rose by 10% on last year. The Office for Fair Access had welcomed the figures but stressed that more had to be done.
A university spokesman for Cambridge University said to TCS: "The University has agreed with the Office for Fair Access that our principal access objective is to increase the proportion of our UK undergraduate intake from schools in UK state sector to a representative level.
"Our outreach activities engage many thousands of students across the UK and include Challenge Days for pre-GCSE pupils, Summer Schools, Open Days and subject Masterclasses for older students. The University also organises free events for teachers and HE Advisers working in the state sector to equip them with up-to-date knowledge on our admissions processes."
"Our goal is to ensure that anyone with the ability, passion and commitment to apply to Cambridge has a clear picture of what the University can offer them, and receives all the support necessary for them to best demonstrate their potential."
Timur Cetin - Deputy News Editor