The University of Nottingham has been declared the UK’s most popular university after receiving the most applications this year. Recent statistics show that the university has experienced an increase in applications in 2012, despite a national downturn in the number of overall applications. The statistics released in late January by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 0.3% rise in applications to the university, from 49,278 in 2011 up to 49,441 this year, whereas the national average saw a decline of 8.7%.
The rise in tuition fees and decreased government funding have been blamed for the fall in applications nationally as uncertainty surrounds the future of higher education. However, the statistics released show that the University of Nottingham has overcome these new challenges and even increased its popularity amongst applicants despite plans to charge £9,000 in tuition fees next year.
Dr Paul Greatrix, Registrar at The University of Nottingham, said: “We are absolutely delighted by this news and that Nottingham is bucking the national trend, which appears to be affecting the recruitment figures of so many of our competitors.” Dr. Greatrix cites the “quality” and “student experience” that the university is able to offer as the overriding factors contributing to the success of Nottingham in the number of applications.
This student experience includes the award-winning campus, student opportunities and the improvement of facilities in recent years. Other aspects attracting the interest of potential students are the international nature of the university, with its campuses in Malaysia and China.
In the current economic climate, the high graduate employment record of Nottingham may have contributed the most to the application increase. Nottingham boasts only a 5.6% unemployment rate, well below the 2011 national average graduate unemployment rate of 20%.
The University of Nottingham has also continued to promote itself within the region and across the country by recently launching a new campaign, Nottingham Potential, to support wider access to the university. This campaign intends to highlight the amount of bursaries and loans that are available to students in order to dispel any financial worries potential applicants may have.
However, the East Midlands experienced one of the biggest drops in applications by region in the UK, setting the figures of the University of Nottingham as an even more unusual increase. Applications dropped by 10.3% in the region this year, with only the South West and North East regions seeing more substantial drops.
The university’s city neighbour, Nottingham Trent University, has experienced a drop in applications above the national average after announcing plans to charge £8,500 in tuition fees. UCAS reported a decline of 17.3% from 2011, falling from 40,364 to 33,391 applications, although Nottingham Trent still remains a popular university. The city universities of Manchester and Leeds followed Nottingham as the second and third most popular universities in the UK according to the figures released by UCAS.
Overall, the statistics did not come as a shock to many universities as a drop was expected this year following the exceptionally high figures in 2011. Application figures last year reached such high levels due to many students opting to avoid the tuition fees rise by not taking a gap year.