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Tuesday, 2 October, 2001, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Degree in what did you say?
There are more drama students than mathematicians
Acupuncture, wine, aromatherapy, golf, knitwear and folk music.

These are a few of the courses available to students arriving at university for the new academic year.

You can study acupuncture and wine studies at the University of Brighton - and aromatherapy courses are running at 73 universities, each smelling subtly different.

University access
20 years ago, 1 in 8 young people went to university
Now over 1 in 3 young people go to university
The government wants 1 in 2 young people to go to university

If you are not sure about which course to choose, you might need some advice - or else you might decide to study for a degree in advice work, available from Staffordshire University.

If this sounds too deskbound, you can study golf greenkeeping at Cannington College or watersports and adventure activities management, at Swansea Institute of Higher Education.

Or for more outdoors education, there is pig and poultry production at the College of West Anglia.

If the autumn winds are too bracing, then you could warm up with one of several courses that offer knitwear design.

Graduation rates
20 years ago, 100,000 graduated each year
Now, 260,000 graduate
350,000 students entering university this year

And wearing a big woolly jumper, you might feel more susceptible to the charms of a four-year degree in folk music, available from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

These courses suggest how much higher education has changed - moving beyond a narrow range of academic courses to offer an eclectic range of vocational and specialist subjects.

Universities are more diverse than ever before, taking in a wider range of people than was once expected at A-level, never mind at degree level.

While the image of higher education often remains associated with traditional courses in ivy-clad settings, the reality can be very different.

For example, about 350,000 students are entering university for the first time this autumn - and, based on last year's figures, only about 6,000 of these will be studying a course such as history.

There will be more drama students than mathematicians, more media students than those studying French - and more studying management than physics and chemistry put together.

The landscape of higher education is likely to continue to change, with the government pursuing a target of over half young people entering university.

There have been reports of universities already struggling to fill the places they have available.

And to attract tens of thousands of more young people into higher education could require an even more imaginative range of degree courses on offer.

See also:

28 Sep 01 | Mike Baker
University: Is it a good deal?
11 May 01 | Education
Student debt 'threat to wider access'
20 Jul 01 | Wales
Degree pushes final frontier
25 Aug 00 | Scotland
Degree pipes in new era
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