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Fee rises see dramatic drop in 2012 KU applications

By River Reporter Feb 16, 2012

 By Matt McEvoy and Isabel Hayman-Brown

Kingston University chiefs remain optimistic that courses will continue despite a dramatic drop in applications for the next academic year. 

The reaction came in spite of the latest worrying figures which showed that the number of candidates applying to Kingston fell by double the national average since the maximum annual tuition fees were raised to £9000.

Applications to KU for the 2012-2013 year have dropped by 14.5 per cent, compared to the national average which stands at just over 7.4 per cent. 

This has raised concerns that courses which struggle to recruit enough students, could be forced to drop important modules or face being axed altogether. The admissions team remain upbeat however, saying any approach to reviewing courses will not be made hastily, and could take several years.

Courses may have to be reviewed


Pro Vice Chancellor Martyn Jones, head of academic support and student services, said: “Kingston has always attracted students and we have always filled courses so to speak.Those courses that are no longer justifiable will have to be reviewed. Of course we will have to determine a pattern and this could take time to do so. 

“We will only know with different cycles of applications – that could take years.”

Applications for the 2011-2012 period showed the university received 38,468 applications – a five per cent increase on the previous year – while applications for the 2012-2013 academic year have dropped to 32,878 – a decrease of 5,590. Other London universities also saw applications fall, with Goldsmiths experiencing a 23 per cent drop and 22 per cent for City University.

Even though the decrease seems severe, the falling figures are not representative of all faculties at the University. While admissions for arts and social sciences at Kingston have fallen 20 per cent, vocational courses such as engineering and pharmacology have seen rise in applications of 20 per cent.

Professor Jones said: “With the current economic climate and the rise in tuition fees, I believe many are choosing something that is considered ‘vocational’. Subjects like healthcare – something that is both practical and vocational – have seen an increase in applications nationally.”

Higher standards of entry


The rise in tuition fees has seen academic courses affected. Professor Jones said: “If you look at the courses that are considered traditionally academic, also the classics, applications have fallen nationally.”

Higher standards of entry requirements in some subjects have also whittled down the pool of prospective students, threatening closure for those that do not fill their quota. For example, Kingston journalism now requires A-level results of AAB. It has seen a 28 per cent fall in applications. 

The Faculty of Business and Law, the Faculty of Social Sciences (FASS) and the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) were the three areas worst affected. Full-field architecture, a flagship design course, has seen applications tumble by 25 per cent.

Last year government funding cuts restricted the number of students some Arts and Social Sciences courses are allowed to admit.

The university is holding taster days for school leavers as well as offering bursaries and scholarships in an attempt to make KU first choice for more candidates.   

In a letter to staff, Vice-Chancellor Julius Weinberg said: “We all, regardless of our role, need to be welcoming and helpful to prospective students and their parents.” 

While the slump in applications suggests the tuition fee hike has deterred prospective university students, recent polling suggests this isn’t necessarily the case. 

Last month, a YouGov poll of 1,055 16 to 18-year-olds showed 80 per cent still want to study at university, while 27 per cent believed the financial implications were not an issue.

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