University figures: Highest year ever for teenager applications – except for last year’s spike

The BBC reports:

University applications from UK students for the first year of higher tuition fees are down by 8.7%, according to figures from the admissions service.

With fees rising to up to £9,000 per year, the impact has been biggest for England’s universities – down by 9.9%.

The LibDem Voice team have been quick to respond. Mark Pack pointed out three key facts about the figures:

1. Proportion of poor school-leavers applying to uni. at record levels
2. Best year ever for applications by teenagers save last year’s spike
3. Drop in mature student applications, which has caused the overall decrease figure

And Stephen Tall has a full commentary on his blog:

Headlines you won’t read today: University applications up this year more than 16%*

Yes, you read that headline right: applications to university have gone up by 16% this year — when compared with 2009:

2009 – 464,167 applications (by Jan. deadline)
2012 – 540,073 (+16%)

I’m being deliberately selective, of course. This year’s round of applications — the first under the new fees regime — show a drop of 7.4% compared with last year (2011: 583,546), or a 5.3% drop compared with the year before (2010: 570,556). (Source: UCAS website; also for graph below.)

The point of my misleading headline is simple: headline figures can easily mislead.

My co-editor at Lib Dem Voice Mark Pack has previously analysed some of the underlying questions that need to be asked before rushing to judgement: for example, that the number of 18 year-olds is in demographic decline, leading to a natural fall in numbers applying to university. If you look at the application figures for 17 and 18 year-olds there has been a decline of 2.5% from 2011 to 2012. Co-incidentally this more or less matches the fall in the birth-rate from 1992 to 1993 (18 years ago).

There is also the simple fact that last year’s figures were higher as students rushed to beat the introduction of £9k fees, with fewer opting, for instance, to take gap years — so no surprise then that one of the biggest falls in university applications of any age group is among 19 year-olds (down 12.5%).

The biggest driver behind the fall in university application figures this year compared with 2011 is that fewer mature students have applied to university — as also happened in 1998, after Labour first introduced fees. It’s clear mature students are the most ‘price-sensitive’.

You can read Stephen’s full post, complete with graph, here.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

17 Comments

  • “My co-editor at Lib Dem Voice Mark Pack has previously analysed some of the underlying questions that need to be asked before rushing to judgement: for example, that the number of 18 year-olds is in demographic decline, leading to a natural fall in numbers applying to university. If you look at the application figures for 17 and 18 year-olds there has been a decline of 2.5% from 2011 to 2012. Co-incidentally this more or less matches the fall in the birth-rate from 1992 to 1993 (18 years ago).”

    As was pointed out first time around, the bulk of those currently applying were born in 1994, not 1993:
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/how-do-the-university-application-figures-match-up-against-my-five-questions-25700.html#comment-186898

  • PeterTaylor 30th Jan '12 - 8:50pm

    How does ‘The Voice’ explain the fact that people rushed to university in 2011, if the new system is so great? What I find so odd about this debate, is that so-called ‘Orange Book’/ free market Lib Dems appear to dispute a fairly basic economic rule; if you increase the price of something, demand falls. The IFS has calculated that for each £1,000 increase in fees, university participation falls by 4.4%. Similarly a research paper by the LSE Economists Dalton and Lin showed that the introduction of £9k fees reduce demand for HE for boys by 7.5% and from girls by 4.9%.

  • Between 1990 and 2001 the number of births in England fell in every year except one, in total by over 100,000. University applications from school-leavers are likely to fall pretty much every year well into the next Parliament.

    Want proof? http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2009-01-28d.250775.h

  • We know the number of applications per univ, as well as the fees, waivers, and bursaries of each univ. I have analysed the links – and the results will be up on http://centreforumblog.wordpress.com/ tomorrow morning!

  • “Between 1990 and 2001 the number of births in England fell in every year except one, in total by over 100,000.”

    But the decrease from 1993 to 1994 was much smaller than from 1992 to 1993 – only about 1.3% – so it doesn’t in fact “more or less match” this decrease in the number of applications.

    Admittedly it’s probably a rather pedantic point, and in pressing it perhaps all I’m doing is falling into the trap set by the article above – of discussing the small drop in the number of teenage applicants, rather than the huge drop in the number of mature applicants.

  • Unbelieivable….So we have LESS university applicants ever, yet your headline states the most ever young people, EXCEPT LAST YEAR. and then the posters go on to making stupid statements like comparing birthrates….staggering, just staggering.
    Face the facts, you said NO increase in fees, then agrred to increase them, and now you are trying to spin the figures, let me put you straight, FEWER APPLICANTS. Spin it however u like.

  • Peter Taylor. What you omit to mention is that the price only increases to those who can afford more. Sadly scare mongering by labour confused people causing the spike in applications as many chose to forego their pre university gap year and postpone it.

  • The underlying argument seems to be “school leavers still want to go to university, therefore our policies are justified.”

    That must be non sequitur of the week, at lease.

  • I listened to the minister explaining away the serious drop in mature students…”Because those in work are less likely to take time out for further qualifications”….
    My question would have been… “Why, with record numbers of people being made redundant, would that not have been more than balanced out by such people wanting further qualifications?”

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 31st Jan '12 - 9:52am

    Weren’t we told that most mature students are part-time students? Therefore, with the change so that part-time students pay nothing up front, wouldn’t you expect no decline or even an increase in mature student applications?

  • Tabman: What low regard you have for students. Apparently they make huge decisions like this based soley on “scare mongering by Labour” which then confused them. The price of higher education has increased for 70% of graduates. http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/5354

  • name goes here 31st Jan '12 - 2:08pm

    @Ian
    The OU is not dealing with the situation well. They have provided contradictory information to current students and are now failing to announce further changes. Particularly badly affected are those students who took a broad span of modules and/or planned two qualifications (the OU double major was a common result of flexible study), as current guidance seems to indicate that not only will the student receive no support in completing their second qualification, which is understandable, but they will likely forfeit any support if they continue a second, even if self-funded (it’s complicated). Worse, they may be forced to lose what they’ve already done towards one of their degree paths (again, it’s complicated). They are also canceling courses in an ungodly rush, especially the small taster courses, which are not compatible with the part time fee requirements. Many people working towards smaller certificates will have a nasty shock when they find out it’s all been cancelled in favour of loan-friendly timetables.

    The OU have bunged all their eggs into the first-time undergraduate market, which seems like a betrayal of their original aim, but then betrayal is this generation’s must-wear colour so they are only following fashion.

    UoL external are suspiciously silent about Sept 2012. I doubt they know what they’re doing themselves.

    For those looking to do an ELQ, the likely answer is to shop internationally (or move).

  • Malcolm Todd 31st Jan '12 - 3:14pm

    @Paul Walter
    “Weren’t we told that most mature students are part-time students? Therefore, with the change so that part-time students pay nothing up front, wouldn’t you expect no decline or even an increase in mature student applications?”

    I don’t think the figures include part-time applications at all. So it’s possible (pure speculation) that even more mature students have opted for part-time study now that the major disincentive for doing so (ineligibility for student loans) has been removed.

  • Malcolm Todd 31st Jan '12 - 3:18pm

    @Ivan
    “The underlying argument seems to be ‘school leavers still want to go to university, therefore our policies are justified.’

    That must be non sequitur of the week”

    No, the underlying argument is clearly “school leavers still want to go to university, therefore those who confidently predicted that the increase in fees would put them off are wrong”. That’s not the only argument that was made against the new scheme (and certainly not the only one against our MPs’ disgraceful abandonment of a clear pledge), but it was certainly an argument, advanced quite forcefully by many, and these figures, properly analysed, tend to suggest that it was incorrect. That’s all.

  • What choice do bright 18 year olds have but to go to university?

    The job market is in crisis and any that are advertised want degree qualified staff.

    Inelastic demand doesn’t justify a 40% tax band starting at £21k

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User Avatarnigel hunter 21st Feb - 6:27pm
    Yes. Trump uses Christian's for his own political ends .Sad . Yes how log will it take till the penny drops?
  • User AvatarMohammed Amin 21st Feb - 5:04pm
    Christian Evangelical Americans have put their trust in a man who shows no real evidence of genuine religious belief. Indeed Mr Trump's only god seems...
  • User AvatarPaul Reynolds 21st Feb - 4:56pm
    Some questions have been asked about the UK vs Germany data. Some more info. Salaries in Germany are about 10% higher than the UK on...
  • User AvatarJohn Barrett 21st Feb - 4:56pm
    With so many people on the election Review Team there is one obvious problem which I fear with make the task of the group difficult,...
  • User AvatarFrank West 21st Feb - 4:24pm
    My local Poundland employed lots of EU youngsters at one point whilst our own youth were doing drugs and cider yards away outside, post Brexit...
  • User AvatarMalc Poll 21st Feb - 4:18pm
    And the remain vote was split , us and 2 indepents (not sure of the local platform they stood on ) Malc poll