Even though there are still about seven million full- and part-time students in further and higher adult education, half a million of them postgraduates, already overall undergraduate home applications to English universities were down by about 10% for 2012, though UCAS data still shows applications from school leavers, even those from less well-off back grounds, holding up well. One explanation could be that without having alternative options well-qualified young people have little else on offer, particularly given it is the case that with average incomes falling (as we noted in chapter 1) more may realize they may never fully pay the loans back anyway. If so, this is going to throw Willetts’ calculations into disarray.
UCAS figures show older students are now less likely to apply to any university and so account for a large part of the overall drop in applications. By contrast, rather than applying to local universities to save money by living at home, many ‘oven-ready’/ A-level qualified sixth-formers still go for the ‘full-student package’ at campus and other unis between the Fab Four and the Million+ group of former-polys, although some of these institutions report ‘wild swings’ in numbers of applicants (Guardian.co.uk. 19/01/13).…….Many Million+ institutions are most badly down – especially in the hardest hit everywhere humanities, social sciences and modern languages as well as business’.
Extract from The Great Reversal p 74.