UCAS Answer Big Questions on 2012 University Tuition Fee Rise Impact

  • 07 Nov 2014

How much has the rise in tuition fees really affected applications to university? Are young people choosing to consider other options now that it costs £9,000 a year to study for a bachelor’s degree? The Analysis and research team at UCAS have checked out their application figures since the change, and have provided a round-up of answers to these big questions…It may not be what you expect!


November 2010 was the last year that students would pay £3,000 a year for university tuition fees. It’s now set at £9,000, as school leavers are all too aware.

The UCAS team reported that applicants for the 2012/13 academic year were much more likely to opt to start their courses straight away rather than defer a year, which would mean them having to pay £9,000 rather than £3,000 per year.

Applications to university in the UK dipped in 2012. Young people were reportedly around five per cent less likely to apply. However, UCAS had attributed some of this to the reduction of young people choosing deferred entry.

Since then applications shot up again over the past two years, and 2014 saw the demand for university places at highest ever levels. However, UCAS state that they believe applications would be even higher were it not for the current high cost of tuition fees.

The UCAS analysis also shows that by 2013, universities were making more offers to applicants and being more flexible with entry requirements. In contrast to concerns about the rise in tuition fees hindering more young people from poorer backgrounds from going to university, figures show that in terms of demand, entry and type of institution, differences in background have reduced over this period. 

What does this mean for school leavers making their decisions now?

With demand for places at its highest levels ever, competition is hot for a spot at university! However, funding is available in the form of Student Loans, so if university is still top of your list and you are prepared to take on student debt then it’s still feasible to take this route, providing you win your place.

There are more and more alternative routes to university available now too for those who feel university may not be for them, or there is a chance of not achieving the grades needed for a university place. School leaver programmes, Higher Apprenticeships and sponsored degree programmes all offer training, salaries and professional qualifications with reputable employers.


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