Mature students and part-time study hit hard – other university applications increase

Undergraduate applications to university have increased following a significant drop in 2012, according to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Last academic year, 47,000 fewer students started university than did in 2011. However, this year, there has been a surge of 13,000 more applications for undergraduate courses at the January UCAS deadline.

International recruitment has also held its own, with a 9 per cent increase in applications for 2013-2014 compared to last year.

However, part-time study and mature applicants have been hit hard with a 40 per cent fall in part-time undergraduates and a 27 per cent drop in postgraduate part-time entrants since the 2010-2011 academic year. Mature applicants (aged 20 or over) fell by 7.1 per cent between 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

The gender divide in university applicants continues to be stark; 18-year-old girls are a third more likely to apply to higher education overall while in the most disadvantaged parts of England, girls are 50 per cent more likely to apply.

Non-mature applicants from the most advantaged places are three times more likely to apply to university than those from the poorest places in the country. Success rates in institutions that require high A-level grades are six to nine times greater for students from advantaged areas than disadvantaged areas.

Since 2006, there has been a 70 per cent rise in the number of private providers of higher education accessing student finance. Over 100 institutions now access student loan funding, although this only accounts for one per cent of the total student support budget.

Last week, figures from the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings revealed that the world’s top universities have strengthened their positions as global leaders (6 March 2013).