The latest official figures show that the number of university applications for this year has seen the smallest increase in over thirty years, giving rise to concerns that next year’s tuition fee hike is already affecting whether young people choose to pursue higher education.
Critics of the planned rise in tuition, set to take place in the fall of 2012, have long said that the fees will act as a deterrent for all but the wealthiest of students.
Many argue that the new maximum of 9,000 pounds for tuition is, in effect, a bar that will keep students of lower-income families from pursuing their university degree. The latest application figures have shown that the critics may be right.
The number of applications did not drop, but instead showed just a 1.4% increase from last year, compared with a 15.3% increase of the previous year and a decade of record rises.
Previously, experts predicted that this year would see again see a record number of applicants, as students were expected to rush to take their placements before the hike in autumn 2012. But the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service’s figures have led to suggestions that the tuition rise may be putting students off higher education entirely. It stands to reason that while this year will cost less, students would be unwilling to face two more years of £8,600 fees on average.
Critics of the nearly trebled tuition fees have pointed out that the measures will keep bright, young students – especially students from marginalised or immigrant backgrounds – from obtaining an education and making Britain better with their acquired knowledge.
However, new figures have shown even more serious results to the tuition hike: UK applications to American Ivy League institutions have increased sharply, while UK university applications remain almost stagnant.
This suggests that the severe hike in fees gives a much smaller incentive for Britain’s best and brightest to stay in the UK.
Parents whose children have years to go before university are encouraged to take this time to save towards the costs of higher education. Experts say to take advantage of tax-free savings, such as the new Junior ISA that will launch in November. Small contributions each month can go a long way towards letting your child make the decision to pursue higher education or not, rather than high fees barring the option.