The report says one person in 20 who would have been expected to apply to university in 2012, if the recent trend of increasing application rates among 18-years-olds in England was maintained, did not do so. The Commission says this equates to approximately 15,000 ‘missing’ young applicants.
The University and College Union (UCU) said the figures were particularly worrying at a time when large numbers of young people were unemployed or failing to secure other forms of training or education.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “Young people not applying for university have few other opportunities with levels of high unemployment and the difficulty securing other forms of education or training. We need to be investing in our young people, not directing them towards a lengthy dole queue.
“The government’s fees policy has been a disaster from the start and is having a serious impact on the choices young people make.”
The total number of applicants in England fell by 8.8% from 421,448 in 2010 to 384,170 in 2012, with a drop of 7.2% for 18- and 19-year-olds, from 298,155 in 2010 to 276,629 in 2012. In Scotland total applicants increased by 1% from 38,763 in 2010 to 39,761 in 2012; in Wales applicants increased by 0.3% from 20,805 in 2010 to 20,876 in 2012; meanwhile in Northern Ireland applicants decreased by 0.8% from 18,435 in 2010 to 18,292 in 2012.