The tripling of tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 is putting students off applying to university, a report has suggested.
The Independent Commission on Fees has seen a drop in the overall numbers of applicants to English universities by 8.8% compared to two years ago, around 37,000 fewer students.
Applications from 18 and 19-year-olds are down by around 7%.
Professor Ian Marshall, deputy vice chancellor of Coventry University, which has seen a slight increase in applicants, says it is too early to make any firm conclusions.
“Some of it is a little bit worrying that mature students are being put off by the fees … it’s worrying but it’s not conclusive.
“You’ve had one university that’s gone 10% up, another university surprisingly that’s gone 10% down. We’ll probably need to run it out through the whole cycle and see what will happen after we get through clearing.”
The commission, which has put together the report, was established in January to monitor the impact of a rise in tuition fees.
It compared UCAS application figures in 2010 with those of 2012, the first year students will have to pay increased fees.
The report shows that the drop in applicants to English universities does not mirror figures for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, where there are either no tuition fees or they are capped.
The figures were either up or only down by a fraction.
Commission chairman Will Hutton said there was “positive” news indicating that people from poorer backgrounds may not have not been as badly affected as expected.
However, David Franklin, president of the University of Birmingham‘s student union, says it will only be when poorer students get into a university that they might struggle.
“The students who are applying to university and getting in, the loan system in place is means tested to ensure that they can actually get here.
“The problem is when they actually do get here they are faced with costs of halls, books, houses, food and all the other things, right down to participation in sports groups and societies which means that while they’re here they’re not getting the full benefit of the experience.”
Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/970393