In the UK, university applications have dropped from 59,413 this time last year to 52,321 for courses starting in 2012, while the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) said that overseas applications increased slightly from 17,199 to 17,403 — taking the total drop in applications to nine per cent, writes Emily Ashton at the Sun.
The final deadline for most courses is January 15. Universities will start charging annual fees of up to £9,000 from September, although the vast majority of students won't pay up front.
Universities are experiencing a steep drop in demand for courses beginning next September, with one, City University London, saying applications were down 41.4%. Goldsmiths has reported a 35% drop while Brunel has 24% fewer candidates.
National Union of Students vice-president Toni Pearce said:
"The indication is that confusion caused by the Government's botched reforms is causing young people to, at the very least, hesitate before applying to university."
Wes Streeting, chief executive of the Helena Kennedy Foundation, an educational charity, said:
"My main concern is about widening participation. If it is the case that higher tuition fees are having a detrimental impact on the number of applications, then schools, colleges and government need to redouble their efforts to get the facts out."
Universities Minister David Willetts said it was too early in the application process to reveal "underlying trends".
He said: "It is important no one is put off applying because they do not have information about how the new finance system works."
A new survey suggests that 1 in 10 A-level students are being put off applying for UK universities because of the fees hike that will come into effect next year, writes Jeevan Vasagar at the Guardian.
Sally Hunt, of the Universities and Colleges Union, said that the Government's fees policy has been a disaster from the start and is clearly having a serious impact on the choices young people make about their education.