UBDC intern provides UCAS application insights
Higher education policy is already a key campaigning issue for political parties as the general election on 8 June approaches.
The financial implications of taking the step into higher education have changed in recent years, including maintenance grants - given to students from the most deprived backgrounds - replaced by a loan and increasing tuition fees. This has caused concern amongst education experts who have noted that students from disadvantaged backgrounds may be deterred from applying for higher education courses due to the amount of debt they could accumulate.
Euan Murphie, who did a Q-Step internship with us last year, worked with the UCAS data in our collection to examine differences in the number of applications and applicants to higher education institutions in Scotland and the UK between 2008 and 2015. Points of note were the different education and fee systems in Scotland compared with the rest of the UK and what, if any, influence the recent changes in higher education had on applications.
You can read Euan’s analysis in this Data Note (1.7Mb PDF). Listed below are some key takeaways.
- Scotland has seen an overall increase in applications to higher education of 50.7%. When this growth is broken down into levels of deprivation, we can see that the areas of higher deprivation have experienced faster than average growth rates. Furthermore, the higher the deprivation level, the larger the percentage increases.
- There is also a trend towards higher numbers of applicants from more deprived parts of the country.
- Applications in Scotland appear unaffected by the tuition fee increase in England in 2012, which almost trebled fees.
- Percent increases in applications in Scotland are around double that of the UK average and around 3-5 times greater for applicants.
- Since the number of applications and applicants in Glasgow was declining until 2008, then subsequently increased, it could be inferred that the recession had an effect by increasing applications to higher education.
Following this analysis, UBDC hopes that other researchers will pick up this research. There may be further insights to be gained from greater examination of the deprivation measures used, changes in government policy or reforms within the separate education systems and factors affecting the average rate of applications per applicant.