Figures released by UCAS have shown an overall 7.4 per cent drop in university applicants for courses beginning at UK universities this autumn.
There was actually an 8.7 per cent drop in applications from students in the UK, however an increase in overseas applications brought the overall figure to a drop of 7.4 per cent.
But many feared that with fees set to rise to up to £9,000 this year the fall would have been much worse.
“While the overall number of applicants has decreased compared with the same point last year, the dip is far less dramatic than many were initially predicting. And if we look at the number of 18 year old applicants from the UK, this has dropped by only 3.6 per cent at a time when the overall 18 year old population is in decline,” notes Nicola Dandridge, Universities UK's chief executive. “The main issue now is whether students from certain backgrounds have been deterred more than others,” she adds.
Even with the drop in applicants UCAS believes that applications will still outnumber university places available.
"The indications are that demand for HE will continue to outstrip the number of places available in 2012,” says UCAS chief executive Mary Curnock Cook. “Applications are already 50,000 ahead of the number of acceptances in 2011 and last year UCAS received over 100,000 further applications between January and the close of the cycle."