Figures published by the Universities and Colleges Admission Service showing a 11.7% fall in the number of Welsh-domiciled students applying for Higher Education leave Labour’s tuition fee policy in tatters, Welsh Conservatives claimed today.
Labour’s policy, which costs an estimated £3.6billion over its 9 year costed period, was a response to the UK’s Government’s rise in tuition fees in England, which Labour claimed would deter students.
Today’s figures show that there was a fall in applications from English-domiciled students of 6.5%, but in Wales where student fees are subsidised by thousands of pounds, the fall was almost double – 11.7%.
Angela Burns AM, Shadow Minister for Education, said, “These damning figures leave Labour’s £3.6billion tuition fee subsidy policy in tatters.
“Labour’s short-sighted and dubiously-costed policy was based on the premise that students from Wales would not be deterred from applying to university by the higher costs facing students from England. This has turned out to be without foundation.
“Labour’s policy was supposed to avoid a drop in applications to university, yet applications from Welsh-domiciled students are falling at double the rate of decline in England.
“While the deadline for applications has not yet passed, these figures are a significant cause for concern and suggest that the Welsh Government is subsidising students to the tune of £3.6billion with little impact on access.
“At a time of public spending restraint, the Welsh Government should be acting as a responsible guardian of the public purse and not fritter away substantial sums of taxpayers’ money with so little to show for it.
“The Education Minister must keep an eye on these application figures and consider taking his student funding policy back to the drawing board.”