The number of people applying for UK university places has fallen by more than 25,000 (4%) on last year, data coming from the admissions service Ucas shows.
The figures show a sharp decline in those applying to study nursing courses – down 19% – and also also also a continued fall inside the number of mature students, notably in England and also also also Northern Ireland.
The number of EU students planning to study inside the UK has fallen by 5%.
the item is usually the first decline since fees were last increased in England, in 2012.
Fees in England will increase to £9,250 in which year, and also also also student loans are subject to an increase in interest rates – rising coming from 4.6% to 6.1% coming from in which autumn.
University leaders said several factors could be fuelling the fall in applicants, including Brexit, higher fees and also also also funding alterations for trainee nurses and also also also midwives.
coming from 1 August, brand new nursing, midwifery and also also also most allied health students will no longer receive NHS bursaries – instead, they will have access to the same student loans system as various other students.
The latest Ucas figures show the number of people who had applied to UK universities for the coming academic year by the 30 June deadline was 649,700 – compared with 674,890 in 2016.
There have been reductions in applicants coming from all four countries inside the UK. There were:
- 437,860 applications coming from students in England – down 5% coming from 459,430 last year
- 48,940 coming from Scotland – down 1% coming from 49,470
- 22,530 coming from Wales – down 5% coming from 23,740
- 20,290 coming from Northern Ireland – down 4% coming from 21,110
Applications coming from EU students fell coming from 51,850 in 2016 to 49,250 in which year.
However, applicants coming from overseas countries outside of the European Union are up 2%, coming from 69,300 in 2016 to 70,830 in which year.
There has been a significant drop in mature students (those aged 25 and also also also over) in England and also also also Northern Ireland – down 18% (11,190) and also also also 13% (220) respectively.
Dr Mark Corver, Ucas director of analysis and also also also research, said: “Within the figures, there are contrasting trends.
“How these trends translate into students at university and also also also colleges will become clear over the next six weeks, as applicants get their results and also also also secure their places and also also also brand new applicants apply direct to Ucas’s clearing process.”
Prof Les Ebdon, director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said: “The downward trend in mature student numbers is usually at in which point one of the most pressing issues in fair access to higher education.
“Undoubtedly, the reasons behind the fall are complex and also also also multiple, although universities and also also also colleges should look to do what they can to reverse the decline in mature student applications, as a matter of urgency.”
Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of Universities UK, said universities recognised in which there were several issues to address.
“Continuing to communicate to European applicants in which they are welcome and also also also enrich our education system is usually important,” she said.
“The decline in part-time and also also also mature student entrants must also be addressed.
“We recognise also the concern about the total cost of going to university.
“Any analysis needs to cover the cost of maintenance and also also also the interest rate on the loans.”
Sarah Stevens, head of policy at the Russell Group, said the item could be a concern if EU students were being put off by the uncertainties of Brexit.
“the item’s positive in which applications coming from overseas students outside the EU have risen slightly,” he said.
“International students bring social and also also also cultural diversity to our campuses and also also also in which benefits all students, and also also also they contribute £25.8bn to the UK economy.”
The Department for Education pointed out in which the number of 18-year-olds applying for university was at record levels despite the fall inside the overall number of applicants.
A spokeswoman said: “Higher education reforms will give people more choice and also also also universities will be likely to continue improving access and also also also participation in higher education.
“The government is usually committed to supporting all young people to reach their full potential – whether in which is usually going to university, starting an apprenticeship or taking up a technical qualification.”
Pam Tatlow, chief executive of MillionPlus, said the application data coming from Ucas was “not not bad news”.
“As predicted, the abolition of bursaries has depressed rather than increased applications for nursing and also also also there will be no additional nurses trained in spite of ministers’ assurances,” she said.
“There is usually no doubt in which the government’s approach to Brexit is usually damaging and also also also is usually creating huge uncertainties, both for EU students and also also also UK universities.”