Student numbers slide as £9k fees kick in

The University has admitted that it is missing its target for students starting at Leeds this year. According to University Senate documents seen by this paper, the University is experiencing a shortfall in undergraduates, with at least 500 fewer than expected starting in September.

Commenting on the figures, the University released a statement saying: “As we predicted last term, our home undergraduate intake is 500 below plan. Most of our peers seem to have experienced comparable falls, which reflect in particular a significant reduction in the number of AAB+ students in the system nationally.”

The Senate documents also reveal that in response, the University is now having to reduce its entry requirements to fill places. The papers say that the University has “accepted more near-miss candidates and more clearing candidates than for 2011/12”. The papers also hint that the University is failing to attract enough good quality candidates in the face of strong competition from other institutions, citing “increased recruitment by some strong institutions such as Bristol” as a possible reason for the fall in numbers. The University has now said it needs to “make our standard offers as high as possible to create our own insurance opportunity”.

The University has also “identified that a significant shortfall of around 33% was likely in full-time… taught postgraduate recruitment”. According to Times Higher Education, preliminary UCAS figures put the fall in the number of students entering higher education this year at 54,000.

This news comes after politicians, unions and charities spoke out against increasing fees, arguing that the new tuition fees regime would deter students from attending university. Shabana Mahmood, the Shadow Higher Education Minister, said: “It is clear that the drastic increase in fees and the increased debt burden is putting people of all ages off going to university and investing their future. Most students will be paying off their debts most of their working lives.”

Words: James Greenhalgh and Max Hemmings

Photo: Leo Garbutt

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