Freshers’ Week in Bradford was quieter this year as the number of new students at the city’s university slumped by ten per cent as fees rise to £9,000 a year.
Although performing better than the national average, the University of Bradford still welcomed 200 fewer students this month than in 2011.
And that was despite the lure of a £70 million building programme which included a £7.5 million refurbishment of the Student’s Union, now known as Student Central.
The decline in enrolments was predicted by the Telegraph & Argus last year when the increase in fees was first announced, although in January the university said it was still hoping to increase its intake for 2012.
Reacting to the shortfall, vice-chancellor Mark Cleary said it was “tough” for universities in the era of the new fees.
“The University of Bradford is no exception to this, and although final figures are yet to be confirmed, we are looking at a drop of around ten per cent in home and EU undergraduate students, which would see us enrol around 1,900 students,” Mr Cleary said.
“Across the UK it was difficult to predict how fees would affect student demand and we were prepared for a possible drop in student numbers.
“Despite this drop in numbers we are confident that we can continue to be a sustainable and resilient university with strong student demand, and we are confident that our offer is one students will continue to value.”
Some 54,000 fewer students have signed up for degree courses across England, a country-wide decline of 14 per cent.
However in Scotland – where there are no fees – new university entrants are up by two per cent.
Lecturers’ leaders have put the blame for the drop in England squarely on the increased cost of learning.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “The bottom line is that the Government’s policy of massively increasing student fees and student debt has had a big impact on applications.”