The unprecedented demand for a UK higher education is reflected in around 670,000 applications in 2011, with those that lead directly to remunerative professions, such as law, medicine, engineering, sciences, business and management in particular demand. This demand is also a result of students seeking to avoid increased tuition fees. Applications from the EU are currently very high as are those from developing countries, but it is estimated that almost a third of applicants will be unsuccessful and it is therefore imperative that young people set themselves the highest standards when taking A-Levels or other pre-university exams. Ashbourne Independent Sixth Form College offers two year, 18 month and a one-year intensive A Level courses, providing a wide range of subject choices.
An Unprecedented Demand for Places
The unprecedented desire for a British higher education will be accompanied this year by equally fierce competition for places.
It has been reported that British universities have received around 670,000 applicants for courses in 2011, at a time when these institutions are under tremendous pressure from government cuts and are severely penalised if they exceed their quota of students.
The financial crisis and recession that precipitated these problems have also caused the increase in demand, since both school-leavers and older people turn to education in the absence of suitable employment.
Courses that lead directly to remunerative professions, such as law, medicine, engineering, sciences, business and management are particularly popular.
A Perfect Storm
The demand in 2011 has also soared as a result of students seeking to avoid the increased tuition fees (typically £9000 a year) that will be introduced next year.
The current crop of students is avoiding taking a gap year and is also competing with unsuccessful applicants from 2010. This ‘perfect storm’ in university applications will to some extent dissipate in 2012, as the higher fees discourage some young people from poorer backgrounds as well as applications to less prestigious ‘new’ universities. In general, however, the number of applicants is expected to decline by just 10%.
A Hunger for Higher Education
Other factors, including positive discrimination by such universities as Bristol towards applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds, will affect applicants from independent schools.
More generally, the previous government’s desire to increase the proportion of the population entering universities has raised expectations, generating a hunger for higher education that is likely to survive the current period of austerity – and the coalition’s attempts to promote cheaper vocational training.
EU Applications to British Universities
British universities will also continue to be extremely sought-after by overseas students. Applications from the EU are currently very high, encouraged by Europeans’ entitlement to the loans available to British students.
It is uncertain how this demand will be affected in future years by the increasing expense of UK institutions in relation to their European counterparts. However, many students will continue to be attracted by the high reputation of British universities, as well as by the opportunity to develop their English and understanding of the Anglo-Saxon business environment.
The relative strength of the British labour market will also attract applicants from poorer EU countries, who will use their time in the UK as an opportunity for employment.
Government Immigration Policy for Non-EU Students
Although fees for non-EU students have always been high, British universities have long been a prestigious destination, second only to the US, for wealthy families from developing countries.
Here the threat to demand is from government immigration policy, which is seeking to reduce the absolute number of student visas granted each year.
For the sake of our balance of trade, it is to be hoped that the axe will fall on bogus students entering disreputable institutions rather than on applicants to legitimate colleges and universities.
Continued Demand for Higher Education
Despite the pressures on both home and overseas students, it is likely that demand for higher education will remain very high in the foreseeable future.
It is estimated that almost a third of applicants will be unsuccessful this year, even after going through the ‘clearing’ process in August, and many A-grade students will miss out on the most attractive courses.
This situation is unlikely to change significantly, and it is therefore imperative that young people set themselves the highest standards when taking A-Levels or other pre-university exams. They should also strive to develop a range of extra-curricular activities and interests, and to make a strong, well-considered university application.
Maximising Student Potential
Ashbourne College maintains a strong commitment to fulfilling these goals, enabling students to maximize their potential and to enter the best universities and courses.