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Freshers numbers drop after tuition fees hike

By River Reporter Jan 19, 2013

Tuition fees put off hundreds of Kingston freshers, UCAS figures suggest.

Ollie Gillman and Ryan Rocastle

Freshers were put off studying at Kingston by the rise in tuition fees, figures released by UCAS suggest.

The number of students coming to Kingston has fallen nearly 9 per cent since tuition fees were hiked, way above the nationwide average.

Fees rose to up to £9,000 for some courses at Kingston in September 2012, leading to 599 fewer students starting first year.

Fees “not worth it”

“The student fees are ridiculous and not worth it at all. I don’t think people are going to pay that much to go Kingston,” said Joseph Day, a pharmaceutical science student at KU.

“Kingston’s a good university but not part of the Russell Group which, in my opinion, are the only universities even close to coming worth that sort of money,” he added.

Kingston has been taking fewer freshers on for the last three years running, with the 2012 intake 17.5 per cent less than in 2009, 1,731 less students.

“Slightly below” target

A Kingston University spokesperson said that less freshers were starting at Kingston now than in 2009 because of the way the Government controls student numbers.

Kingston’s target this year was 6,164, and 6,210 applicants were accepted.

However, the University expect final figures will show they were “slightly below” this target “once the full circumstances of applicants has been taken into account”, as not all applicants come through UCAS.

The nationwide drop in students starting degree courses last September was 5.5 per cent. Kingston’s freshers count decreased by 8.8 per cent, more than average.

No regrets

Most courses at Kingston cost £8,500 a year, though some cost £9,000, the maximum universities are allowed to charge students annually.

Former History student Olivia Zapolis said: “A few of my friends didn’t go to university and now they are in good, well-paid jobs and then there’s me who’s still struggling to find anything full time.

“I don’t regret university because of the people I met and the good experiences, however I can see why people would choose not to,” she added.

The Kingston University spokesperson said: “Higher tuition fees are not the primary reason for enrolling fewer new students.

“Kingston University will not be dropping its fees because it does not believe it is possible to provide a university experience with research-active teachers and the broad range of its other activities for below that cost.”

“True chaos”

Shabana Mahmood, Labour’s shadow minister for universities and science, said the figures revealed “the true chaos that has been unleashed by this government.”

She added: “With every type of university reporting significant falls in students, this is a problem for all of higher education and shows once again how raising fees and implementing now-discredited student number control systems has done such damage.”

Kingston and Surbiton MP Ed Davey apologised for breaking his pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees, The River revealed last year.

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