Source: Press TV
Over half of the universities in England expect to face a drop in student numbers next year, as the government has tripled tuition fees to £9,000 a year, a report has showed.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England revealed that 56 universities are predicting a fall in the number of full-time graduates they accept from Britain or the European Union next year. Most of the institutions anticipate a 2% drop, but one university expect a 20% fall and five others predict over 10% fall.
Due to the Tory-led government's harsh austerity measures, last December MPs voted to increase tuition fees from £3,350 a year to £9,000 from the autumn of 2012.
The report said that a drop in the number of students would be a “key risk” to English universities' long-term financial health.
Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the University and College Union, insisted that the government's wrong policies over higher education were “in complete disarray.”
"Universities, staff and students risk being the guinea pigs for a system untried anywhere else in the world.
"There needs to be a serious rethink before we put our hard-won proud international reputation at risk,” she said.
Usman Ali, vice-president of the National Union of Students, criticized the coalition government's education strategy, stressing it had made a system that would risk putting ambitious and talented young people from less-wealthy backgrounds off university.
Expressing his concerns over the worrying fall in student numbers, Ali added: “Unless the Government makes sure that proper financial support is available to support vulnerable students while they are at university, many will feel deterred by the prospect of such debts.
“That would be disastrous for social mobility and our economic recovery.”
However, Martin Lewis, head of Independent Taskforce for Student Finance Information, claimed that misplaced fears over debts forced many students away from higher education.
“We have a near national crisis with the perception of student loan 2012 debt. Prospective students are making their decision based on headline fee levels rather than how much it's actually likely to cost them. Repayments are proportionate to income, the more you earn the bigger your repayments.”