Islington headmaster’s fears over university fee hike

An Islington headmaster has revealed the tuition fees hike has had a big impact on his students’ attitudes towards university, after statistics showed a nationwide downturn in numbers applying to higher education.

Jamie Brownhill, headmaster of Central Foundation Boys’ School in Cowper Street, Finsbury, expects a lower percentage of his students to go on to university this year.

While the school is continuing to encourage students to apply for university, Mr Brownhill said they were also identifying alternative options.

He continued: “Far more of them are thinking, ‘is this the right thing for them?’”

“The school is having to find other options, be it jobs after 18 or apprenticeships. In these areas we’re supporting our students to an extent not seen before.”

His comments come on the back of figures released by admissions body UCAS late last year which showed a near 13 per cent decrease in numbers applying to university from England compared with this time last year.

Numbers applying from Greater London have fallen by 12.2 per cent, with teachers across the capital reporting widespread anxiety about the increase in fees to �9,000.

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In addition to affecting schools, there are also signs that the increase is impacting Islington’s higher education institutions.

Professor Malcolm Gillies, vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University, said his institution had seen a decline in the total number of applicants, and that he was “concerned about the issue of affordability”.

He said that London Met was re-targeting resources within the university to put “more pence in the pound into the teaching of students” so that they could charge a more affordable average fee of �6,850.

Professor Gillies added that the university was promoting within schools and colleges the benefits of attending university from home.

He added: “We’re saying to the younger people of Islington that there is the opportunity for them to get a high quality education in their own area.”

In November, it was also suggested that application numbers for City University were down by over 40 per cent on last year, although a spokesman for the university said it was too early to predict figures as UCAS submissions remain open until January 15.