Education crisis: 5,000 university spaces remain unfilled in UK

AFP Photo/Fabian Matzerath
With only a week until the application deadline a third of places at UK’s top universities remain vacant. As tuition fees go up and student achievement levels fall, it is estimated universities could lose over $1 billion during the next three years.

This year 30,000 less undergraduates have been accepted due to a sharp drop in applications following the introduction of the $14k annual fees, reported the Telegraph. Seven out of 24 institutions in the elite Russell Group, which comprises 24 top British universities, are still advertising spaces, according to the Telegraph.

Another reason for a low number of applications is the drop in student achievement levels, below acceptable A-level grades, following the move to make exams harder, which left many short of the needed entry requirements for leading universities.

David Willetts Minister of State for Universities and Science, said that this summer there was a fall of 5,000 in the number of students who gained at least two As and a B, the threshold needed to get into leading institutions.

“Fewer students at UK universities this year represents the predictable failure of the Government’s attempt to create an artificial market for the most highly-qualified students”, said Sally Hunt, the general secretary of the University and College Union.

Hunt was referring to recent government reforms, which let universities recruit unlimited number of students with at least AAB grade level. However a sharp drop in teens earning top grades left top universities struggling to fill their courses.

With only about 640,000 people applying to university this year, compared with 690,000 last year some universities face billion-dollar losses. If the average annual tuition fee is around $13k, then some of the top universities could lose over $1 billion of funding in the next three years.