A-level results are out as uni applications fall

Joe Tidy, News Reporter

Hundreds of thousands of students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are today finding out their A-level results as research shows a drop in interest in going to university.

Figures show UK applications decreased from 553,000 in 2016 to just short of 530,000 this year - a 4% drop.

The number of EU students planning to study at a UK university or college has also fallen by 5%.

The dip is being attributed to a drop in the number of 18-19 year olds in the country and changes to popular bursary schemes.

However, other statistics point to a wider issue.

The Sutton Trust recently released figures suggesting that the proportion of young people who think they are likely to go into higher education when they are old enough has fallen to the lowest level since 2009.

It comes as another option for sixth form or college leavers has seen a large uptick in interest - apprenticeships.

The number of starters on apprenticeship schemes has risen steadily from 175,000 in 2005-06 to more than 500,000 in 2015-16.

A total of 2.4 million new apprenticeships started between 2010-11 and 2014-15 and the Government appears on target to reach its goal of three million new schemes by 2020.

Holly Hollingworth is one A-level student waiting for her results but already accepted on to an apprenticeship.

"I've always had a part-time job and that just sort of suited me more rather than going to college 24/7, five days a week," she told Sky News.

"Where I can get the same qualification and work without the debt, it just seemed silly not to use that option."

Universities and employers agree that it is not about one area winning and the other losing, as both paths offer different life choices.

However, one university boss admits the market has become far more competitive.

"Universities are responding to that in the way they market and brand themselves," Royal Holloway University chief operating officer David Ashton said.

"They are trying to improve the quality of their physical estates by making major investments in facilities."