According to recent figures, UK university applications for the upcoming year fell by 8.7%, but another study, based on the figures from the admissions body UCAS, shows that the £9000 undergraduate fees may considerably reduce the number of mature students at universities. The report, ‘Never too Late to Learn’, points out a major concern as mature students represent 1/5 of full-time undergraduates.
The mature students included in the report are those aged 21 or over applying for the upcoming 2012-2013 academic year. So far, mature students’ applications have dramatically dropped by 11.4% since last year, against 6.6% for students aged between 17 and 20. By way of comparison, Scottish universities, where fees are nonexistent, have suffered an ‘insignificant’ fall of 1.5% (mainly due to the recession) in students’ applications. These figures indicate that the increased fees prove an obstacle to university registration for mature students.
In addition, from Autumn 2012, mature students will no longer be eligible for a student loan if they are applying for a second degree.
According to a spokesman from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, mature students make a valuable contribution, bringing previous experiences at university along with knowledge which often comes from real situations in a working environment. Their subject choices are often more considered and as a consequence they prove to be better involved in their courses. National Union of Students president, Liam Burns, also shared his concern about the “worrying drop in the number of those aged over 21 making applications”.
Professor Patrick McGhee, chairman of university think tank million+, said: “This report is a timely reminder that social mobility is not just about young people … contrary to popular perception university isn’t just for 18 year olds with A-levels.”