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Why are university applications declining?


As results day approaches there has been a drop in university places. What are the factors preventing people from going to University?

As results day is approaching even clearing may not guarantee that university places will be filled. UCAS figures produced in February this year showed there has been a significant drop in university applications and places on nursing courses have declined further.



Finances and BREXIT have impacted on this, grants are no longer available and tuition fees have increased. Paying these large fees does not leave a guarantee of a job at the end of studies. Therefore no return on investment. The statistics published earlier this year from UCAS showed a significant drop in EU applications by seven per cent.


Even though loans are available they can leave students in thousands of debt when they leave, which has a bigger financial impact later, like not being able to purchase a house. Any money earned goes towards paying off the debt. The cost of living continues to rise to therefore people are sacrificing education.


A university degree does not guarantee a job at the the end. An increasing number of people later on go onto undertake jobs completely unrelated to their degree. Statistics published in the Financial Times in April 2016 showed a 2.2% drop in graduates working in skilled jobs.These figures also showed that graduate earnings were considerably less than non graduates.


Even before the digital advancements many pioneering entrepreneurs of today proved that university is not a prerequisite for success. Lord Sugar and Sir Richard Branson both built empires without any academic qualifications. Karen Brady was actually declined for a place on a Journalism course but worked her up in the workplace fighting diversity issues. Today as well as being a successful Business Woman Karen Brady also writes for a number of publications.



There are even examples of success stories without any qualifications.

The TV chef James Martin failed Home Economics at school but now has a successful career as a chef, with book publications and restaurants. This was all when it was harder to start a business. Nowadays there are also may online courses that can be undertaken in place of university courses.


University degrees are not the main prerequisite that employers look for when recruiting. It is apparent on programs like Dragons Dead and The Apprentice that academic qualifications fall at the bottom of the list when it comes to securing business investment for example. The successful candidates on both these programs have been hired or secured investments by displaying business acumen.


The decline in Nursing applications at university has many contributing factors. Nurses work long,unsociable hours which can be a deterrent into entering this profession. Abolishing NHS bursaries has also seen a decline in people choosing to enter the profession.


If someone really wants to go to university there are other routes for example many employers may fund it. It is getting more and more common for students to undertake part time work along with their studies. Many spend so much time working rather than studying that they may as well get a full time job and study part time or through distance learning. Nowadays a lot of academic institutions actually value industry experience. This allows someone to save money for university,while gaining valuable experience.


The other issue is that if clearing does not fill university places will institutions be able to run courses if there are insufficient numbers. Would this then impact on the jobs in the University or people who have applied to university not being able to study a subject of their choice due to lack of numbers?


Mayapee Chowdhury