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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 July 2006, 05:43 GMT 06:43 UK
Rise for Welsh uni applications
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Welsh students who study in Wales will pay lower fees
The number of Welsh students applying for universities places in Wales continues to rise, bucking the UK trend which is seeing the numbers fall.

The universities admissions service, Ucas, says while the UK as a whole has seen applications fall by 3.5%, in Wales they have increased by 1.8%.

It is thought the decision not to introduce higher top-up fees for Welsh students in Wales may be a factor.

From September, students in England will pay up to 3,000 a year in fees.

It follows the controversial decision by the UK government to give university vice chancellors the powers to charge students that figure, as long as they attracted more students from poorer backgrounds.

In May last year opposition parties in the Welsh assembly forced through a vote against higher fees for Welsh students who study in Wales.

These students will continue to pay the current 1,200 a year for their fees.

BBC Wales education correspondent Colette Hume said it was this decision which gives Welsh students living in Wales a cheaper degree that could explain the rise in university applications.

Ucas said the overall decrease of 17,184 applications to UK higher education courses this autumn should be seen in the context of the record increase of 8.2% last year.

But this year's decrease continues the downward trend revealed by the last two sets of Ucas figures released this year.

'Confident'

Student leaders have said fear of debt was a major concern for undergraduates looking where to go this autumn.

Assembly education minister Jane Davidson told BBC Wales: "The key issue is we have universities of the highest quality. In the last research assessment exercise we had many, many departments which were right at the top of the international tree.

"Students can be confident in choosing Wales and we want many more students from across the UK to do so."

She added they would always encourage students to look for the course and university they wanted rather than consider fees first.

"We're encouraging students of all backgrounds to go to university," she said.

'Cutting edge' courses

Newport is among the universities in Wales which are flourishing.

Latest figures show an increase of 11.5% more people applying to study there than this time last year. It is the third successive year that the institution has seen a significant rise in applications.

Last year it had the largest increase in full-time undergraduate applications of any UK university, with a 38.5% rise.

Newport University said it was proving exceptional for a number of reasons, including the range of cutting-edge courses, such as creative sound and music and performing arts.




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