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EDITIONS
Friday, 14 February, 2003, 11:51 GMT
More students choose maths
University students
University intake is set to increase this autumn
The number of people applying for mathematics courses at university has risen sharply, reversing last year's fall.

Figures from the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (Ucas) show a 14.3% increase this year, compared with a 12% slump in 2002.

Higher education minister Margaret Hodge said: "These are very early application figures, but I welcome the overall increase."

Engineering also saw a 12% rise in popularity, while the figure for social work was 30%.

Overall rise

Overall, the number of people applying for a higher education place next autumn by the January 15 cut-off point rose by 1.8%.

This was less than the increase of almost 4% in 2002.

Much of this increase was made up of overseas students.

There was a only a 0.1% (1,338) rise in the number of under 21s applying for courses.

Margaret Hodge
Margaret Hodge: Foundation degrees the way forward

The government has set target of moving "towards 50%" of young people into higher education by 2010.

National Union of Students president, Mandy Telford, said: "While these new figures show a slight increase in applications they do not give a breakdown of social background.

"We have no idea whether or not applications from students from the poorest backgrounds have increased.

'Missing targets'

"If applications to university continue at this rate then the government will not hit its manifesto pledge."

The number of people applying to study for foundation degrees - which involve vocational subjects - has risen from 458 to 1,246.

The recent government White Paper on higher education said these were of great importance to the economy.

Mrs Hodge said: "Foundation degrees are the way forward in HE and so I'm glad to see them gaining in popularity. "

Ucas acting chief executive Anthony McClaran said: "The rise in applications to foundation degrees is particularly noticeable.

"It is good to see that a growing number of people are choosing to take advantage of higher education opportunities at this level."

See also:

12 Feb 03 | Education
12 Feb 03 | HE reaction
12 Feb 03 | England
11 Feb 03 | HE case studies
06 Feb 03 | HE reaction
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