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More students going into HE, but science and engineering numbers falling


The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has revealed that more students took up places last autumn then ever before: 358,041 on full-time undergraduate courses, compared with 339,747 in 2000. That represents a 5.4% increase.

Accepted applicants to degree courses increased by 5.6%, from 311,635 in 2000 to 329,218 for 2001. The number of people taking up places on HND courses rose by 2.5%, from 28,112 to 28,823 in 2001. This represents overall increases in the number of accepted applicants from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and other overseas (excluding EU) countries. Eire and other EU countries show a decline in people taking up places in UK higher education. The number of accepted applicants from the EU increased in Scotland only - up by 12.3%. The number of matuer students has also gone up by 9.7%.

UCAS Chief Executive Tony Higgins said: "Normally, we expect to see a rise of about 1.5% each year in the number of people accepting places at UK universities and colleges. This year's unprecedented rise is a welcome one, and a sign that national initiatives to widen participation are starting to bear fruit."

"The part UCAS plays in supporting people through the application process is an important one. We are continuing to simplify the application process to make it as hassle-free as possible for applicants. For example, we have recently introduced an on-line application system. Once an applicant has a password, they can apply 'anytime, anywhere', as long as they have access to a computer. We have also improved our tracking service, so that when students apply through UCAS they can now check their records on-line to see if they have received any offers. Soon they will also be able to accept or reject offers on-line."

Degree subjects showing the biggest increases in recruitment include other topics in education (up 43.2%), media studies (up 22.1%), cinematics (up 16.5%), nursing (up 15.8%), and music (up 15.3%). Subjects showing a decline in popularity include town and country planning (down 10.6%), environmental and other physical sciences (down 9.4%), chemistry (down 7.6%), civil engineering (down 5.3%), and mechanical engineering (down 5%).

The biggest increases for HND subjects were seen in production and/or manufacturing engineering (up 86.7%), other biological sciences (up 43.2%), cinematics (up 42.3%), computer systems engineering (up 36.2%), and fine arts (up 32.8%). HND subjects showing a decline are electronic engineering (down 25.3%), biology (down 19.3%), civil engineering (down 18.7%), social work (down 14.3%) and law (down 13.9%).


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