Kingston University has seen more than a 10 per cent drop in applications for next year – but a mixed picture shows some courses recruiting well while others have seen a plunge in numbers of interested students.
The University received more than 9,000 applications in the week before January 15 – one of the key application deadlines this year.
However, it still left the University more than 2,000 applications down on this point last year.
At a time when falling student application numbers are leading to funding issues across the whole University, the latest drop in applicants has raised even more concern.
However, the picture is confused – partly because of the University’s decision to drop many half-field courses and also the wide variations in numbers to subjects across all the faculties.
The worst hit faculty – Health, Social Care & Education – saw a fall of 25 per cent in applications from last year with courses such as children’s nursing and adult nursing being the courses with the largest fall.
The courses continue to be badly hit by the decision of the Government in 2016 to scrap NHS bursaries for nursing and other health professional students in England, replacing them with student loans.
Course leader for nursing, Paul Newcombe, said: “Some of our nursing fields over-recruited this year.
“However, probably the biggest impact for nursing is the change in funding from a bursary to the student loan system for our BSc.”
However, Newcombe was optimistic about the future of the course.
“We are a leading provider of the nursing workforce for London. You only have to switch on the news to see that a continual supply of high-quality nurses will always be a top priority for the NHS,” the course leader explained.
Second year children’s nursing student Priya Sud, also said cutting the NHS bursary had had a big impact.
“I think with the NHS bursary and funding being stopped this has affected the applications to study nursing which will have an impact on the number of ualified nurses,” Sud said.
“There is already a shortage of nurses in the UK and with the drop in applications it will have a serious impact on the future of healthcare in the NHS.”
She said she was concerned about the future of the course as the drop in applications might mean less funding from the university.
Universities across the country are understood to have been hit by similar drops in nursing and teaching applications this year.
Kingston University’s nursing courses have been recognised as the top nursing course in London by The Guardian university league tables in 2017 for the fourth year in a row.
Business courses such as marketing and advertising, business management, and international business have also seen a decrease in applicants.
Marketing and advertising course director Dr Marvyn Boatswain said he was worried about the future of the course and the industry as a whole.
“I think maybe students are choosing not to go to university a lot more now than just going to university, so yes I am concerned,” he said. “I am hoping that our numbers will remain at least steady.”
“On that particular programme, numbers have not been as large as previous years… which is what we predicted for our new course.”
A KU third-year business management student Silje Rebecca Gjølstad said: “If it continues to see a drop in the number of applicants, I believe that the course will disappear or change by letting some of the modules go and add more up-to-date modules such as IT and innovation in businesses.”
There was a more upbeat picture in other parts of the University. Many of the courses within Kingston School of Arts saw an increase in the number of applicants, such as fine art and art history and filmmaking. The faculty saw numbers grow four per cent.
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences appeared overall to have the largest growth in applicants since last year, although it also had the largest number of half-field courses discontinued making direct comparisons difficult.
Psychology, one of the biggest FASS courses saw one of the biggest rises in applicants.
The drop in applicants follows on from a 20 per cent drop last year. The issue has particularly hit newer universities such as Kingston.