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NUS Responds to latest UCAS applicant figures

Thursday 13 July 2017

The National Union of Students today responded to the UCAS June 2017 applicant figures, which show an overall drop in University applicants of 4%, and a drop of 5% in EU applicants. Figures also show particularly sharp drops in the number of Black and Ethnic Minority applicants, applicants over eighteen and applicants for nursing courses.

Responding to the figures, NUS President Shakira Martin said:

“These figures are further evidence that the government urgently needs to review the education funding system. Some have claimed that rising fees and the lack of proper financial support for students have not deterred people from attending University. Clearly, this is completely untrue.

We can see that there is a drop of 9% in Black and Ethnic Minority applicants: a group which have consistently shown to be more debt averse and therefore more likely to be put off by student fees. The sharp drop in mature students also highlights how completely unaffordable University is for many: applicants over 18 are less likely to be supported by their parents, more likely to have their own financial and caring responsibilities, and are more likely to be aware of the risks of taking on huge amounts of debt.

The most horrifying figure released today is the 19% drop in nursing applicants. That this huge drop follows cuts to nursing bursaries is no surprise. What is surprising is that the government could not foresee the catastrophic effect that these cuts would have. Traditionally, 50% of nursing students are parents. When students are put in a position which essentially forces them to live in poverty while completing their studies, it is unsurprising that those with children feel unable to take part.

The education funding system is not working, and as applicant numbers continue to drop the government needs to wake up to the reality that if we don’t review the system now, we will have to pay a huge price a few years down the line.”


Shakira Martin is available for interview.

For further comment please contact NUS Press office 07866 695 010


The National Union of Students is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.

We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students. We promote, defend and extend the rights of students and develop and champion strong students’ unions.