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University applicants rise

Students' cash problems failed to deter school leavers from applying to university last year, with increased numbers of applicants despite the number of 18-year-olds reaching its lowest level since the early 1980s, writes Susan Young.

However, the annual report of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service shows that finances are affecting the tradition that students leave home for higher education. Numbers of degree students choosing courses in their home regions rose two per cent to 44.5 per cent, while 56 per cent of those doing HNDs opted for a local institution, up four per cent.

Another change was in numbers of applications from the Irish Republic, up more than 40 per cent. This is due mainly to Eire's decision to make its students at any European Union university eligible for a maintenance grant.

Proportions of black and Asian applicants and those accepted on to courses rose slightly in 1995, but the report shows a marked age difference compared with whites. Where almost half of white students were 18 in September, only 37.1 per cent of Asians and 13.4 per cent of blacks fell into the same category. But 42 per cent of black applicants were 25-plus, compared with 13.7 per cent of whites and 7.3 per cent of Asians.

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