University applications were at a record high by December last year as students rush to beat the tuition fees increase. UCAS had received 344,000 applications by the end of 2010, up 8,000 more from the same time last year.
Applications from British students to study abroad are also on the rise. As previously reported by The Journal, school leavers have been abandoning gap year plans in a bid to avoid the 300 per cent rise in tuition fees, which is due to begin in September 2012.
In addition, many applicants have had to reapply after being rejected last year, when UCAS received a record number of applications at 688,310. If the current trend continues, this year is set to see over 700,000 completed applications.
The coalition has capped university places to last year’s numbers and institutions will be fined for over-recruitment. This means that only a maximum of 479,000 places are available and almost a third of applicants will miss out on university places.
Applications from students of European Union countries, who count towards this strict cap because they qualify for government subsidies, have also increased. Hoping to cover all their bases and secure at least one university spot in September, British students have been turning to European institutions as an alternative option.
Countries such as the Netherlands are appealing to British students, as many degrees are offered in English and fees are only £1,000 a year. The Fulbright Commission, which co-ordinates transatlantic study, has noted a 50 per cent rise in interest since last year.
Even though university in the U.S. is extremely costly for overseas students, it is home to six of the world's top 10 universities and many institutions are able to provide substantial financial aid.
However, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, told The Journal: "The UK hosts some of the world's leading universities, attracting the best and brightest in the country and from around the world.
"Higher graduate contributions are the fairest and only viable way forward. Without sufficient funding, our universities risk relegation from the global premier league into the third division."