University bosses are bracing themselves for a drop in applications as the full implications of a three-fold rise in tuition fees bite.
The main deadline for UCAS applications closed this week and although it will be weeks before local figures are available, experts are already predicting a big drop in the number of 18 year olds applying for full time courses.
National figures released in December showed the number of early applications, and those applying for courses such as medicine and dentistry, were down by 5.6 per cent, compared to the same time in the previous year. Applications by English students were down 6.5 per cent.
Both Lancaster and the University of Central Lancashire were oversubscribed this year and plans are already in hand to deal with any shortfall in demand for 3013/14.
Professor Dave Phoenix, deputy vice-chancellor at UCLan said the university was determined not to see standards compromised.
He added:“Despite the new fees regime UCLan remains a very popular university with nearly five applications for every place.
“We took a very clear position around student recruitment this year: to get as close to our targets as possible while deliberately keeping our admissions threshold at a reasonable level.
“Our average entry tariff in 2012 was over 300 points (BBB) and we ensured that our standard clearing offers for 2012 remained at 240 points (CCC) or higher for year one entry. We were not prepared to chase student numbers and as a result we have recruited a large number of highly qualified students with the ability to excel in their chosen subjects.”
Prof Phoenix said the number of high achieving students was growing adding:“It is clear though, that whilst some areas such as research student numbers and AAB+ students are growing and above target, our undergraduate numbers overall will be below target but within scenario plans.
“UCLan is operating in an international environment and the current climate also provides opportunities for future growth and development that align with our medium term strategy. This summer for instance the university opened the UK’s first overseas campus in Cyprus so further broadening both the international opportunities for students and for staff as well as opportunities for business engagement and research.”
Data provided by UCAS revealed that up to the end of December while the number of applications by EU students was slightly down on the previous period the year before there was also a slight rise in non-EU applications.
Prof Phoenix said: “It is also worth highlighting that international students do not, and can not, displace UK/EU student places. UK/EU student places are capped by the UK government. UCLan, along with all universities in this country, will try to recruit UK students up to those caps.
“The recruitment of international students operates entirely outside these limits imposed on UK/EU students and is important in helping provide an academically strong, culturally diverse student population.”
The University is currently analysing its recruitment data for 2012 and won’t have the complete picture until later this month when it has factored in admissions from educational partners at home and abroad, and postgraduate numbers.