A record number of perspective students have applied to start university in 2011 following the plans to raise tuition fees recently proposed by the government.
UCAS statistics have revealed that a 5.1% rise since the same point last year has occurred, with 28,000 more applicants hoping to claim a place this autumn.
These figures are fuelling fears that tens of thousands of applicants will be left disappointed, while 583, 500 students have already submitted applications, it is clear that many will be disappointed as the final number of places distributed in 2010 stood at 487, 300.
The increase is clearly a response to the government’s plans to increase tuition fees to £9,000 a year, with thousands of sixth formers rushing to apply in order to avoid applying after 2012, when the increases will be enforced.
Not only will students face higher fees, but will also experience a ‘real’ rate of interest on loans they take out to cover the costs.
Fortunately, current students will remain safe as those who have already started their courses before the new regime incurs will not be affected.
Ministers have been warned that they face the damage of record numbers of applicants being turned away for the 2011 cycle, regardless of their academic performance.
Universities that are already facing multimillion-pound funding cuts are set to face further pressure following the rise in applications.
Chief executive of Universities UK said ‘A university education is clearly still recognised for the enormous benefits it provides. Undoubtedly, gaining specialist higher-level skills gives graduates an edge.
‘As always, competition for places is likely to be strong. However, speculation and panic benefits no-one; there is still a good chance of securing a place at university.’