Despite all the claims of the doom and gloom merchants that school leavers from poorer families would be deterred from going to Univeristy under the new fees regime, the reality is that there has been a dip of only 0.2% in applications from students from the most disadvantaged areas. This compares with a dip of 2.5% amongst school leavers from more affluent areas, and singals the first signs of a closing of the gap between rich and poor going to University.
Ucas chief executive, Mary Curnock Cook, said: “Widely expressed concerns about recent changes in higher education funding arrangements having a disproportionate effect on more disadvantaged groups are not borne out by these data.”
Mrs Curnock stated that the only figures that can really be considered at the moment are those for school leavers, as older applicants traditionally apply for University places much later in the cycle.
These figures are also against the background of a demographic drop in the number of school leavers.
Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group of leading universities, says that the underlying longer-term trend remains an increase in demand for university places – with these latest figures considerably higher than three years ago.
“Despite all the hype, fee reforms are unlikely to cause a long-term decline in applications. In the past a fall in applications in the first year of higher fees has been followed by increases in subsequent years.”