Rainbow UK Higher Education

Striving to Promote Equality and Diversity in UK Higher Education

Middle universities will be squeezed hard

There were almost 724,000 babies born in England and Wales in 2011, up from 595,000 in 2001. This is a staggering increase. Except that if we go back a further 10 years, to 1991, the number was around 700,000. The birthrate fell for 10 years, and then for the next 10 climbed back up, and beyond.

That large 1991 cohort was last year’s university graduating class. Since then, we have been experiencing a gradual fall in the number of 18-year-olds in the UK population. For all the disputes about whether fees have caused a decline in applications to UK universities, it seems to have been overlooked that the demographics alone should have caused a fall. If, as some claim, home applicant numbers have held steady, something remarkable is happening. A slightly higher proportion of the cohort is applying to university than before the introduction of fees. Simple arithmetic.

But, more importantly, these demographics ought to be bringing the higher education sector out in a cold sweat. Over the next decade we are likely to have substantially declining numbers of applications, with a big over-supply of places. And then what? Will applications rise again? Perhaps. But the pattern of applications may well change significantly.

via Middle universities will be squeezed hard | Education | The Guardian.

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