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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 12:24 GMT
Many more new EU students in UK
students in lecture theatre
Some say students from the EU are straining the UK system
The number of students from new EU countries coming to UK universities more than doubled in the past year.

The final statistics of those accepted onto full-time higher education courses last autumn saw an overall rise of 0.9% to 377,544.

Of those, 2,422 were from the 10 accession states - up 131.8% on the previous year.

The figures, from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, show 7% more women than men were accepted.

Fewer men

This gender gap confirms a trend of the last decade, with the expansion in university places being filled almost entirely by women.

This was even though men were more likely to be offered places.

This year, 223,792 men applied and 175,657 or 78.5% were accepted.

Of the 262,236 women who applied, 201,887 were accepted: 77%.

The number of male students fell by 0.3%.

Compensation call

The applicants from the new EU countries contributed to an overall rise of 24.4% for the union as a whole outside the British Isles - with a 17.7% rise from the Republic of Ireland, to 3,384.

From other overseas countries UK universities took 24,836 students, a rise of 0.2%.

The chair of the Commons education select committee, Barry Sheerman, said earlier this week that all UK universities were under tremendous pressure in trying to maintain high quality undergraduate teaching.

"Everyone wants to come here," he said.

There was now great competition for UK student places from across the European Union - with students from other EU countries paying the same as UK students.

His committee had been urging the government to seek compensation "from Europe" for UK universities, he said.

Subject popularity

Within the UK, the number of Scottish students going to universities in England was down almost a tenth to 1,799 while the number crossing from Northern Ireland to England was up more than 8% to 2,833.

Among degree subjects, design studies was again the most popular area, with 15,159 students, followed by 14,998 starting law degrees.

The admissions service's chief executive, Anthony McClaran, said: "Behind the overall figures lies a clear picture of diversity.

"Women applicants continue to perform very strongly and it is good to see the continuing growth of the foundation degree pathway."

There were 8,853 students accepted for vocational foundation degrees compared with 5,596 at the same point last year, a rise of 58.2%.

The numbers doing HNDs continued to fall - down 22.5% to 14,559.

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