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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 06:43 GMT 07:43 UK
Lower fees attract home students
It's thought the lack of top-up fees is attracting students in Wales
More than half of first-year students in Welsh universities will be from Wales, according to figures from the University Admissions Service UCAS.

There has been a 7.5% increase in the number of Welsh students at Welsh universities - where, in effect, there are no top-up tuition fees.

And Welsh students going to English universities have dropped by 12.9%.

Experts attribute it to the Assembly Learning Grant (ALG) which makes studying in Wales financially easier.

It is thought that more than 50% of freshers in Wales will be Welsh - the first time in decades.

Graduates are more in demand for work in Wales

The number of students from other EU countries, who also qualify for the ALG, has risen by 32% while the number of students from England and Scotland has dropped sharply.

English students coming to Wales has decreased by 15% with Scottish students dropping by 24.8%.

The results come as another survey showed demand for graduates in Wales was high, with employment rates slightly higher in Wales than the rest of the UK (89.6 % compared to 89.1%).

The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) also found that graduates in Wales earn 46% more than those qualified to A level.

The average graduate wage in 2003 to 2005 was 27,900, compared with 19,200 for those educated to A level.

Four out of five graduates entered graduate level jobs, the report found.

The study showed despite fears in some quarters that the expansion of higher education would result in oversupply, graduates still had a positive return on their degrees - particularly those with postgraduate level qualifications.

The value of a degree remains high and the rising number of graduates have been absorbed by an increase in the demand for graduates
Claire Tyers

Claire Tyers, report author and Research Fellow with the IES, said: "We now have robust evidence about the graduate labour market and its buoyancy.

"The value of a degree remains high and the rising number of graduates have been absorbed by an increase in the demand for graduates."

The report also found Wales had more postgraduates than in the rest of the UK.

Researchers questioned 500 Welsh-based employers, 23 graduate recruiters, and higher education institute careers services for the study.

It also drew on data from the Labour Force Survey and the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey for their research.

Strong message

Education Minister Jane Davidson welcomed the report.

She said: "It underlines the importance of the assembly government's investment in HE in Wales, and is also a strong message to people considering entering higher education that it remains very worthwhile and rewarding."

Professor Phil Gummett, Chief Executive of HEFCW (Higher Education Funding Council For Wales) said: "It is likely that the proportion of graduates in the workforce will have to continue to rise as the share of jobs requiring higher level skills and qualifications grows.

"Of course, challenges still lie ahead if we are to achieve our vision of Wales becoming a 'knowledge economy'.

"The report shows that we all need to do more to ensure that Welsh employers can take advantage of the stream of talented people coming out of our higher education institutions."

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