Sheffield student numbers fall as fees bite

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FEWER students were taken on by Sheffield’s two universities for the current academic year – after the tripling of tuition fees to up to £9,000 a year.

The University of Sheffield saw a seven per cent fall in applications, and a similar percentage reduction in the number of undergraduates beginning courses last autumn.

The number of students applying for courses fell by over 2,400, to 31,750.

At Sheffield Hallam the number of applications fell by over 8,800, down by over 17 per cent – though the numbers for 2011 had reached an artificial high with many young people seeking to beat the fee increases.

But both universities say they are encouraged by the number of applications for autumn this year.

A Hallam spokesman said six people had applied for each available place in 2012, and applications for 2013 were broadly at the same level.

Secretary and registrar Liz Winders said: “We have had 36,548 applications for undergraduate degree courses starting in 2013.

“Although official figures show a 5.5 per cent drop in applications from this point last year, in real terms applications are down by only 2.9 per cent. This is because we have slightly reduced the number of courses we offer – from 205 for 2012, to 196 for 2013.”

At Sheffield a spokeswoman said the current admissions position for 2013 showed a positive recovery, with an application increase of 13 per cent compared to the same time last year, and four per cent up on 2011.

“The university’s current position is also more positive than the national admissions picture,” she said. “We believe this reflects an increasing recognition of the value of a degree from an excellent research-led university such as Sheffield.”

Admissions officers say higher fees were just one factor in the 2012 figures, with uncertainty about the jobs market also an issue.