With the fee hike now coming into effect for prospective students across the UK, the results can already be seen in the drop in applicants. The Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) have released their initial statistics for the year; applications are down 12 per cent on figures from this time last year, with a decline of over 7,000 students who consider higher education to be unfeasible.
Although the application process is still in its early stages, the decline in early applications, which are necessary for Oxbridge and courses such as dentistry, are indicative of what’s to come. It’s inevitable that fewer students will apply, as fewer can afford to do so.
At York, applications to the Biology department are also down 12 per cent, thus far. While there are no other figures available for the University itself yet, I see no reason why York should differ from any other university choosing to charge £9,000 tuition fees. Collectively, the universities charging the higher tuition fees have opted to exclude those of lower social class.
The University wins though, that much is clear. With an increase in fees of 300 per cent, and only a drop in applications of 12 per cent, the University is obviously more than happy to exploit the new fees limit for its own gain. It has no interest in the fact that we are excluding academically gifted students from less secure financial backgrounds, but is prioritising the financial security of the establishment instead; for the University, it’s all about the cash.
Yes, there will always be bursaries and grants available through various benefactors, philanthropists, and even the university itself. However, they will never exist in a large enough quantity for all those who would thrive in higher education, but are now no longer able to even consider an application. And for the bursaries and grants that are available, competition will now be fiercer than ever.
These latest UCAS figures should be a concern. As York and other universities across the country, enter into the application process, they will be dealing with fewer applications, of which a greater percentage will be from secure financial backgrounds and the upper classes. Social mobility and integration have been disregarded by the fee hike, and sidelined by the university. Thanks to the University creating entry requirements other than intelligence and determination, we’re to become an exclusive clique. As applications fall, I fear we’ll see York become progressively more elitist. The typical student will become well off, supported by a wealthy family.
As the University skew our society towards those of a higher class, we’ll lose what makes our student body so excellent and interesting: diversity. By driving up the cost of education, we’re destined to lose that element, as those who can’t stump up the mounting costs are turned away. The resulting student body is not one I’m interested in being a part of, and certainly isn’t one I’d be proud of.
Ultimately, the university won’t lower its fees, and the student body will change for the worse. It is sad that we’ll lose what I believe to be such an important aspect of university life, but the real losers here are the 7,000 students (a number is already dramatically increasing) that have chosen not to apply.
These would-be students will go on to flood the low-skilled job market with their A-levels, and grapple with mass unemployment problems that they simply haven’t been prepared for. And as they sign up for job seeker’s allowance, I wonder how many will wish that they could have afforded a chance at higher education?