Demand falls as fees rise

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APPLICATIONS to Sheffield universities have fallen by more than of 7,500 for the next academic year - as students for the first time face fees of up to £9,000 a year.

Around 27,700 forms from would-be undergraduates have been received at The University of Sheffield, compared with 29,500 last year - a drop of six per cent.

Sheffield Hallam University has received around 36,500 applications, down from 42,270 in 2011 - but it says comparisons are misleading.

The university says the figure is comparable with 2010, and that 2011 was an exceptional year as students sought places before the new funding regime came into force.

As a result, the number of teenagers taking gap years plummeted as they applied early to avoid the fee increases.

The closing date for applications was last Sunday, though some forms are still to work their way through the system.

A Sheffield University spokeswoman said many subjects were as popular as ever.

“But for a small number, where entry standards have been raised, overall application numbers have fallen - however the quality of applications has increased.”

“The quality of applicants overall remains very high with strong applications being made across different subject areas,” the spokeswoman said.

Professor Cliff Allan, deputy vice-chancellor at Sheffield Hallam, said the 2010 figure was ‘exceptionally high’.

“It is still too early to provide a comprehensive picture of applications for 2012, as UCAS is still processing applications which were submitted before the deadline and these have yet to reach us,” he said.

“The fact we have had roughly the same number as this stage in 2010 is very encouraging, particularly since our entry requirements for many courses have been raised since then.”

Early indications for the Yorkshire region showed a fall of around 15 per cent overall, with fees due to treble at most universities in September.

Nationally the reduction was around 13 per cent, although final figures are still to be released.

Universities charging substantially less than the £9,000 maximum are hoping to see an increase in demand - as is Sheffield College, for degree-standard courses costing £5,900.

In the longer term popular institutions like Sheffield’s may see recruitment figures rise, as the Government has removed a cap on universities recruiting students with top grade A-levels.

But the number of students achieving AAB grades at A-level to be taken on in 2012/13 is expected to show only a small increase.