Applications to uni fall as fees increase
THE Staffordshire Moorlands has suffered one of the biggest falls in university applications in Britain as teenagers count the cost of getting a degree.
New figures show the number of Moorlands residents applying for degree courses plummeted by 17.94 per cent between 2011 and 2012.
Yet in neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent, overall applications were down by only three per cent and in some parts of the city they actually went up.
The UCAS snapshot was taken on June 30 – the main deadline for degrees that started this term – and is the first indication of how the tuition fees hike could be affecting people's decisions.
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From September, universities have been able to charge up to £9,000-a-year.
Former Biddulph High student Beth Lythgoe, from Knypersley, said fees were a major worry. The 18-year-old still decided to take the plunge and is now studying veterinary medicine at Bristol University.
She said: "It's a five-year course and so I'll have to pay £45,000 in fees. It is daunting."
In Staffordshire, 26,429 applications were lodged for degree choices, compared with 29,014 the previous year.
2,781 applications from Moorlands residents – 608 fewer than in 2011.
3,733 applications from people in Newcastle borough – 349 (8.5 per cent) fewer.
4,348 applications from residents in Stafford borough – 365 (7.74 per cent) fewer.
In Stoke-on-Trent, they dropped from 6,776 to 6,573.
And in Cheshire East, applications fell from 15,638 to 13,521 (a 13.54 per cent decrease).
Steve Richman, director of Moorlands Sixth Form College, is surprised at the findings.
He said: "We have around 200 students and 75 per cent go on to university. It hasn't really changed over the last year.
"We've worked hard to convince them they're not going to get into millions of pounds of debt."
Tom Bevan, who achieved four A-levels at Newcastle College, has opted for an apprenticeship over university.
The 18-year-old, from Wolstanton, said: "I'm at Michelin and really enjoying it.
"The big thing was I couldn't find a university course which felt 100 per cent right. "If fees had stayed the same, I might still have applied. But I wanted experience of the workplace."
At Newcastle College, half the students live in Stoke-on-Trent and the rest are mostly from the Newcastle area.
Principal Karen Dobson said university applications went up this year, from 608 students to 667.
But she added: "We don't know if there's a difference between the Newcastle and Stoke-on-Trent populations.
"We've done a huge amount to explain loans and fees."
Nationally, middle-class areas have seen a larger drop in applications than working-class communities.
It could reflect the fact middle-income families don't qualify for financial support available to poorer students, such as bursaries and grants.
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