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Under-21s rebuff tuition fees;FE Focus

The fall in the number of applications by mature students to university next year persists but - despite the proposed introduction of tuition fees - numbers for those under 21 have gone up by 1.1 per cent.

Figures released today by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show a drop of 11.5 per cent for ages 21-24 compared with last year and they are 15.1 per cent down for ages 25 and over.

Applications for primary teaching are down 15.4 per cent, social work is down by 8 per cent and nursing by 2.4 per cent. UCAS admitted that the fall in the number of mature applicants was a matter "of concern".

In Scotland, where honours degrees are traditionally four years long, institutions do seem to be affected by the introduction of fees. There the number of applications is down by 4.5 per cent, compared to 2.3 per cent in England and 1.7 per cent in Wales. There has been a 23 per cent increase in the number of students applying to start in the second year, or later, as students try to beat the fees.

The total of UK applicants was 395,789 compared to 405,590 this time last year. Late applications are still arriving at UCAS and processing will continue up to and during the clearing process in August.

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