Drop in university applications following Brexit

Image credit: Tulane Public Relations

For the third time in 15 years the number of students applying for university has dropped.

There have been 564,190 applicants for university places in autumn 2017, which is 5% fewer than last year. This follows drops in 2006 and 2012, when tuition fees were raised to £3,000 and £9,000 respectively.

This year, however, UCAS figures point to the impact of Brexit. The number of EU applicants has fallen by 7%. Meanwhile there has also been a drop of 5% in UK applicants. The number of applications from international students remains comparatively constant.

The drop in EU applications comes despite the fact that UCAS data from previous years suggested that EU applicant numbers would increase.

The uncertainty induced by Brexit seems to be a significant factor. It was initially unclear whether EU students applying to start courses in autumn 2017 would be eligible for loans and grants in the future.

Ministers only announced four days before the early application deadline that these students would definitely be eligible for funding throughout their degree regardless of the outcome of the Brexit vote.

Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of Universities UK, outlined a possible reasons for the decline in applications to the Huffington Post.

“This includes the possible impact of the Brexit vote on EU applicants and changes to the way degrees in nursing, midwifery and some other allied health professions in England are funded.

“While the drop is not catastrophic, particularly given last year’s record high, there is a need to address some issues urgently.”

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