Record numbers apply for degree courses to beat rise in tuition fees

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UNIVERSITIES across Yorkshire are seeing big increases in applications for courses starting next year as candidates begin a desperate scramble for places to avoid the huge rise in tuition fees in 2012.

Application numbers are up on last year's record levels at all but one of the nine universities in the region and open day events are also attracting more interest from school leavers and their families.

Higher education bosses believe the increase is down to a fall in the number of students planning to take gap years and the high numbers of candidates who did not get into university in September.

This year record numbers failed to secure a place in higher education with 688,310 people applying to universities across the country but only 479,057 being accepted onto courses, meaning that around 209,000 missed out.

The latest application figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post have raised fears that next year's application process could be even tougher for potential students.

Nationally there have already been 1,554,450 applicants to the University and College Admission Service (Ucas) for degree courses starting in September 2011 – up more than 64,000 on this time last year – in which a record number applied to go to university.

Some Yorkshire universities have had increases way above the national average of 4.5 per cent. York St John has seen a 25 per cent increase while Bradford has had 24 per cent more applications with 6,268 compared with 5,052 this time last year.

Huddersfield University has seen an 17 per cent rise with 11,562 candidates up from 9,855 last year.

This represents a 37 per cent increase on the numbers of students who applied to the university two years ago.

Huddersfield's deputy vice chancellor Prof Peter Slee said: "It is almost certain that applications will go up because the number of people taking gap years will drop .

"Taking a year out will come at a cost because of the change in fees the following year. This might not deter some people from the most well-off backgrounds but it will affect a lot of people."

Annual tuition fees are set to rise from 3,375 next year to a basic threshold of 6,000 and a maximum level of 9,000 in 2012.