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Taking action in higher education

UCU comments on falling student numbers where top-up fees are charged

10 January 2008 | last updated: 14 December 2015

The fall in the number of first-year enrolments in England and Northern Ireland universities in 2006-2007, where variable tuition fees of up to £3,000 a year must now be paid by full-time undergraduates, was more than just a coincidence UCU said today.

By contrast, full-time first year enrolments at Scottish and Welsh institutions - where there are no top-up fees – increased in 2006-07.

Commenting on the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) statistics on student enrolments and qualifications, UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'It is hardly surprising that the number of enrolments at universities where top-up fees are being charged has fallen, or that enrolments have increased at institutions in countries not charging them. Anyone who really believes that charging more for degrees is the way to encourage students to apply to university is living in a dream world. Access to a university education must be based on a student's aptitude and willingness to learn, not what they are willing, or able, to pay.

UCU remains opposed to top-up fees and looks forward to next year's review of their impact where we will once again make the case for higher education to be accessible to all potential students who have the ability and desire to study at this level.'

The statistics revealed that:

  • In England (variable top-up fees of £3,000 a year introduced in 2006-2007)
    The number of full-time first year enrolments decreased by 2% between 2005-06 and 2006-07
  • In Northern Ireland (variable top-up fees of £3,000 a year introduced in 2006-2007)
    The number of full-time first year enrolments decreased by 9% between 2005-06 and 2006-07
  • In Wales (no top-up fees in 2006-2007)
    The number of full-time first year enrolments increased by 4% between 2005-06 and 2006-07
  • In Scotland (no tuition fees)
    The number of full-time first year enrolments increased by 3% between 2005-06 and 2006-07

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