UCAS figures for 2012 applications - good news or bad?
According to where you are standing, the latest UCAS figures on UK university applications are worrying - or good news. The media are headlining a big drop - the BBC reports that university applications from UK students for courses starting in the autumn are down 8.9% on last year.
And Labour's universities spokeswoman, Shabana Mahmood, said 'the decision of the Tory-led government to treble tuition fees to £9,000 is hitting young people and their aspirations', while Sally Hunt, leader of the UCU lecturers' union, also attacked 'the folly' of the rise in fees.
However, Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said the figures confirmed that the fall in applications is 'far less dramatic than some were predicting for this year.' And the Russell Group of top UK universities also saw an encouraging picture, saying, 'Contrary to what some doomsayers predicted, UCAS has found that overall applications from 18-year-olds have fallen by just 2.6% - and that is even though there are fewer 18-year-olds in the UK this year and there was a peak in applications last year as fewer people chose to take gap years.
Director General Wendy Piatt added, 'Prospective students know that in tough economic times a degree - especially one from a leading university - remains a smart investment.'