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Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Record student numbers
students at a freshers' fair
More women than men are registering for courses
There is a record number of students in higher education across the UK this autumn.

Figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) show that 336,930 have accepted university and college places, compared with the previous record of 336,338 in 1997.

UK students 2000
Total: 330,656
1.9% up on 1999
1.5% more men
2.4% more women
Scottish students: up 7.2%
Aged over 25: down 0.9%
From EU: down 10.2%
Non-EU: up 8.2%
The rise on the same time last year is 6,257, or 1.9%, even though there had been a slight fall in the number of applicants.

Despite the chaos that surrounded the Higher exam results, the number of applicants from Scotland getting a place in any UK institution is up by 7.2% on last year - which is likely to fuel the debate over tuition fees.

The final figures are likely to be even higher as people register for courses late, during October.

'Career rewards'

Ucas chief executive Tony Higgins said more mature students were going to university, which had helped to take this year's total to the record.

student sit-in
Student occupation in London: Fees remain an issue
"More and more people are recognising that higher education is not only enjoyable but it brings greater career rewards too," he said.

"The expansion of higher education is making those opportunities more widely available than ever before."

There are significant shifts in the numbers opting for specific types of course.

The degree subjects showing the biggest increases include humanities with arts, up 25.3%, cinematics, up 21.4%, nursing, up 18.5%, media studies, up 14.7%, general science, up 13.2%, mathematical science and informatics, up 10.5%, computer science, up 11.2% and drama, up 11.5%.

Subjects showing a decline include general studies, down 26.9%, chemistry, down 11.0%, engineering and technology combinations, down 10.8%, double languages, down 9.7%, physics, down 7.1%, biology, down 6.4%, and civil engineering, down 4.8%.

Fees effect?

There are more students aged 24 and under than last year, and a similar number of older people starting courses as in 1999, but at all ages there are bigger increases among women than among men.

There is a marked increase of 8.6% in Northern Ireland but that is put down to there being two new institutions there this year.

That aside, the biggest increase is in Scottish students going to Scottish establishments - up 7.8% on last year.

This is likely to fuel the row over tuition fees. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland fees are paid in advance but for Scottish students studying in Scotland they are not due until after graduation.

There has been an increase of 6.5% on last year in the numbers of Welsh students going to institutions in Wales - and almost 2% fewer going to England.

The number of people joining HND and HNC courses is up by 4.5%, which stopping a decline in recent years.

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See also:

21 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
NI students choose local universities
29 Aug 00 | Education
'No panic' over university places
14 Apr 00 | Education
Student figures 'hit by fees'
11 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Lib Dems target university fees
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