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BBC Wales' Steve Jones
"It's a worrying time for the local community who depend on the university"
 real 56k

Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Student drop may mean cuts
Lampeter University
Rural Lampeter has no local pool of students
A Welsh university could be forced to cut back financially because of a shortfall in first-year admissions.

While the numbers of applications for college places in Wales have remained almost identical to last year, initial estimates suggest there could be 30% fewer first-year students at University of Wales, Lampeter, this year.

A leaked memo said the university was facing possible financial cuts after a dramatic fall in first-year admissions.

It is understood that there were only between 250 and 260 first-year admissions this year - a 30% drop from last year.

Viability questioned

Between 350 and 500 first-year students usually attend the university and these figures suggest that the college is suffering more than others around the country.

In a two-page internal document to all staff, vice-chancellor Professor Keith Robins said: "It may be that there are other universities who are also in trouble because of shortfalls in recruitment.

"But, as always, we are very exposed because of our limited product range and extreme difficulty in balancing declines in certain subjects by growth in others."

Vaughan Richards of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said the union was very concerned by the figures - especially if they raise questions over the viability of Lampeter University.

Nightlife

He believes the fall in student numbers is sadly inevitable with the scrapping of grants.

More and more students are electing to study from home rather than go away in an attempt to not graduate with huge debts.

This is a problem for rural universities such as Lampeter which do not have high numbers of potential students living nearby.

The recruitment of students has also - in recent years - been affected by marketing.

Mr Richards said a college like Lampeter had a good academic reputation, but could not compete with city universities that - as well as selling the academic side - could also attract students with their nightlife, shops and sporting events.

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