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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April, 2005, 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
Rise in English students in Wales
More young people in England want to study in Wales
Applications to universities in Wales from students in England are continuing to rise, according to new figures from admissions service Ucas.

They show a 12% increase since 2004 in the number of students from England applying to campuses in Wales.

Total applications to colleges in Wales went up 11.2% for 2005. Those from Wales to England rose 5.3%.

Confusion over introducing higher tuition fees in England in 2006 was considered a factor in the Wales rise.

Greater promotion of Welsh universities within the UK and abroad is also thought to have contributed.

The Ucas figures show 37,520 students in England have applied for full-time undergraduate courses starting in 2005 at universities and colleges in Wales.

'Global map'

NUS Wales president James Knight said the rise in applications from England could be linked to the future introduction of top-up fees.

"Some of it has got to do with the difference in funding regimes and availability of grants but a lot will be down to the lack of information and confusion over top-up fees that has sometimes been in the media."

Mr Knight added: "The Welsh Assembly Government has an agenda which has put Welsh education and Welsh higher education on the global map.

Student graduating
Top-up fees will not be introduced in Wales before 2007

"There's a very different approach to lifelong learning at Welsh higher education institutions and a greater focus on non-traditional learners and widening participation."

Dr Medwin Hughes, principal of Trinity College Carmarthen, said Welsh universities were doing well in recruiting students from both inside and outside.

"It's very good news that confirms that higher education in Wales is holding its ground, and it confirms that there is a wide choice of relevant courses on offer in Wales."

Variable top-up fees of up to 3,000 will be introduced in English universities in 2006. In Wales they have been ruled out during the Labour assembly government's present term, which ends in May 2007, and it will make a decision on the next step this June. .

The Scottish Parliament scrapped upfront tuition fees in the 2000-2001 academic year.

Applications from England to universities in Scotland have risen 17% for 2005.

'Expanding horizons'

A study published in March set out six possible ways of imposing fees after the next Welsh assembly elections in 2007.

Labour said: "We are pleased that so many more people have the opportunity to expand their horizons by entering higher education.

"What is more interesting is the continued increase in the number of people over 21 applying to Welsh universities - a reflection on how successful the widening access agenda has been."

The Welsh Conservatives' assembly leader Nick Bourne called the rise in applications from England a "symptom of the uncertainty and confusion Rhodri Morgan and the Labour Party have created about top-up fees in Wales".

Liberal Democrat Peter Black said: "The rise in applications to university across the board shows that young people are scrambling to avoid the deterrent of top-up fees before they bite in 2006."

Simon Thomas, of Plaid Cymru, said the figures showed his party had been right to vote against tuition fees for Wales and England.

Welsh top-up fees considered
03 Mar 05 |  Wales
Student 'fee factor' played down
17 Feb 05 |  Scotland
Chancellor wants unlimited fees
03 Feb 05 |  Oxfordshire
Fewer Welsh studying in England
27 Jan 05 |  South West Wales

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