Thousands of students may miss out on 2011 university places

Record numbers of would-be students have applied to start university this autumn according to the admissions service UCAS, whilst the number of places available doesn’t look set to rise.

UCAS’ latest application statistics show that an extra 28,000 people have applied for a place at university compared to January last year, which is a rise of 5.1 per cent. Whereas art-based subjects have seen applications lower, more vocational subjects have seen a rise in demand. Applications for engineering degrees rose by 7.7 per cent.

The increase in overall applications is in part likely to be down to students hoping to begin university before the rise in tuition fees is introduced in 2012. Many fear that rising costs of education will lead them to years of living with debt.

Last year 487,300 places were won by applicants, but it’s unlikely many more will become available this year. With 583,500 applications to begin studies in the new academic year already with UCAS, it’s likely that thousands of students will lose out.

“The above-average rise in UCAS applications for engineering degrees can only be a good thing for the UK economy and the profession. With industry long-reporting the need for more graduates in the sector to sustain growth, it is encouraging to see that young people are now opening their eyes to the opportunities that engineering affords, in terms of employability, salary, job satisfaction and long-term career prospects,” says Professor Ken Grattan, Dean of the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and the School of Informatics at City University London.

“For would-be engineering students, this means working hard to achieve the A-Levels grades that their chosen university requires over the next few months and, if necessary, making the most of the admissions process to secure a place at a university offering fully accredited degrees.”

“While I expect that engineering departments will be able to soak up additional demand this year, for those that don’t get a place there are other ways to enter the engineering profession, such as apprenticeships and foundation years, which can offer an alternative route to a full university degree programme,” he adds.

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