HUDDERSFIELD University is still a popular choice for school leavers, despite a national slump in applications for degree courses.
The numbers of students applying to start degree courses this autumn has fallen by almost 9% across the UK as tuition fees triple to up to £9,000, according to figures just issued by UCAS, which processes higher education applications.
But for the same period, the University of Huddersfield has seen just a 2.8% reduction in applications for the 4,500 new places available this September.
Nationally, some 50,000 fewer young people have applied for university compared with this time last year – a drop of 8.9%. In England, the numbers applying were down by 10%, a bigger fall than in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It isn’t just teenagers who are being put off by the higher fees. In the UK overall there was a 10.5% drop in applications from 30 to 35-year-olds, while the numbers of people aged 40 and over was down 10.9%.
Students starting university this autumn will be the first to pay up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees, with many English universities planning to charge the maximum.
Huddersfield University has set its fees at £7,950 which officials have described as “a fair fee.”
They are particularly pleased at levels of current applications, particularly in the light of figures which reveal that Huddersfield’s competitor group of mainly Yorkshire regional universities has seen an overall slump of 13.1% in applications.
A spokesman said: “Collectively, our competitor group is well down and the figures tells us that we are well above both this group and the national average.
“This year is a very unusual year because of the new fee system. We think that 2010 figures are a more accurate measure and Huddersfield applications are up by 10.3% on that year.
“Our reputation is out as a very good place to study and we are doing very well, although nobody will really know how badly they have been affected until the start of the autumn term.”
Universities minister David Willetts insisted that 2012 will still be a “competitive year” for students hoping to gain places.
But some union officials and university leaders have raised concerns about the impact of the fee hike, with one warning that the drop in applications from mature students could be damaging.
According to UCAS, there has not been a disproportionate effect on more disadvantaged groups, although students from poorer backgrounds are applying to courses around £200 cheaper on average than students from richer homes.
Recent figures showed that Huddersfield University is climbing its way up the national league table and is now ranked 58 out of 116, compared with 91st out of 113 four years ago.