New university data shows everyone was wrong about tuition fees

May I introduce you to my latest graph? It’s based on the new data just published about university applications in England and compares the application rate for university places from the most deprived parts of the country with those from the least deprived. As you might expect, the least deprived areas see a higher university application rate than the most deprived. But look what’s happened to that gap:
University Applications Graph
Yes indeed, since the changes to tuition fees in England we’ve seen the gap in applications between the most advantaged and the most disadvantaged areas of the country drop sharply.

That’s the opposite of what critics of the merits of the new system warned about – and indeed not even its keenest supporters that I could find were predicting such an improvement.

Those pesky teenagers have made fools of everyone…

Note as per my tests for making sure someone is talking sense when looking at student numbers, tuition fees and all that:

  • These calculations are based on the application rates, rather than raw numbers of applications, and so take into account the falling number of teenagers.
  • These figures are for application rates amongst 18 year olds, so these figures are relevant to discussions such as about the life chances teenagers are getting. They however exclude applications from mature students.
  • And yes, they are application numbers not actual number of acceptances. Those are based on how many university places are being funded in total but the social skew amongst applications is relevant to how socially skewed the acceptances are likely to end up.