Application numbers fall for third consecutive year

University officials have admitted they are “concerned” after York suffered a drop in number of applications for the third year in a row. Despite having fewer applications, the number of students accepted to the University has continued to rise.

Statistics released to Nouse show the University has suffered below average growth in applications for five consecutive years, of which the number of applications has fallen for the last three. Between 2005/06 and 2008/09 the number of applications to York fell from 21,441 to 19,385 – a drop of 2,056.

Despite falling numbers of applications, the number of students accepted has risen steadily in the last three years, going from 2,376 in 2005/06 to 2,745 in 2007/08. Acceptance figures for the 2008/09 academic year are not yet available.

Applications for 2008/09 were 15% lower than the previous year across all departments excluding Law and Film, Theatre and Television, which were both created in 2007. Of the 24 departments in existence during 2007/08, 21 saw a decrease in applications. The departments of Educational Studies and Electronics were the worst affected, with both seeing drops of 44%.

A UCAS spokesperson said that applications across the country fell by 7% in 2008/09, largely due to the decision to reduce the number of choices an applicant can make from six to five. The 15% drop seen at York is 8% higher than the national average.

University Press Officer David Garner admitted that the increase in number of applications accepted was linked to the Heslington East expansion. He said: “The University is committed to growth, and with the establishment of new departments, we expect to see a rise in applications and a rise in enrolled students.”

Garner denied that the combination of falling applications and increased acceptances meant less qualified students were being accepted, saying: “Applicants to this University continue to be of a very high standard.”

When asked whether the University was concerned by the size of the fall for 2008/09, Garner said: “We are concerned about any dip in applications and the University is working hard on specific subject areas that have seen a downturn in applications. We are looking at the provision of courses and how we market those courses within those subject areas.”

Professor John Robinson, head of the Department of Electronics, said the 44% drop since 2007/08 was being investigated by senior department officials. He said: “The fall in applications this year is a big question for us, and we’re being very careful not to jump to conclusions. Despite falling applications we know that York offers some of the best programmes in the country.”

Since the University was granted permission to proceed with the Heslington East expansion in May 2007 student concerns have grown about the value of a degree from York. One second year English student, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I don’t think it’s a good time to be a York student. So much time and money is being spent on Heslington East and as the University increases in size it’s hard to see how the quality of students accepted won’t drop and the value of a degree from York with it.”

YUSU President Anne-Marie Canning dismissed concerns over the rising rate of acceptance and falling rate of applications. She said “Heslington East is going to make York a more attractive choice. If people are worried about this they need to get a life.”

Vice-Chancellor Brian Cantor has previously denied that the campus expansion is having a negative impact on current students. Speaking at a public briefing on in March he said: “I don’t think the quality of the University has deteriorated in any sense at all in that period, in fact on the world tables we’ve gone up. I don’t really accept the premise so I can’t honestly say that the Heslington East expansion has had any bad impact on us.”


  1. Perhaps when they start actually listening to students about what they want from uni (Ie langwith bar) people will start coming!

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  2. Interesting news, but why was this front page?

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  3. I wonder what figures were like in previous years, and whether this kind of fluctuation is common. I doubt you’d find constant decline in applications over the years. Perhaps nouse could provide us with previous’ years statistics to put these figures in context.

    It would also be interesting to see if there are any similarities in figures between york and other similar universities.

    The rise in accepted candidates should concern us all, especially those of us in departments which seem overstretched as they are. More students may mean more money, but at what price to the quality of tuition?

    As for heslington east, expansion should see york become a regular challenger for top 8 in the UK and top 100 in the world. This will only add prestige to our degrees.

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  5. Do you expect the figiures to stay constant or grow? Numbers of people applying to things usually do fluctuate due to a great number of factors you know!!!

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  6. John, I think you’re right. The fact Langwith bar isn’t opened as an SU bar is the only reason applications have fallen.

    If you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic.

    People applying to York will have *no* idea what Langwith bar is, nor will they give a crap. It’s the quality of teaching and facilities prospective students give a crap about. 99% of students don’t give a rat’s arse about these petty student issues or even drink on campus.

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  7. “As for heslington east, expansion should see york become a regular challenger for top 8 in the UK and top 100 in the world. This will only add prestige to our degrees.”


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  8. “Despite falling numbers of applications, the number of students accepted has risen steadily in the last three years”

    So, maybe, the fact that students are allowed to apply to less universities now is a factor? More people applying end up going to us so they obviously prefer us to other universities. Regardless of Student Bar related issues and regardless of any other ‘negatives’ they preferred our university (and rightly so :D)

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