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No Gap Year Travel for Students

University LogosAccording to the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), fewer teens have made plans for a gap year in order to avoid a paralysing rise in university tuition fees. Those who will be entering higher-education institutions this year will be the last to enjoy a degree that costs £3,290 by the year, as tuition fees will jump to £9,000 next year. It’s because of this that UCAS says only 6,000 18-year-olds will enjoy gap year travel this year – compared to the 20,000 that did in 2010.

Universities are confused as to why anybody wants to take a gap year this year, and they are phoning those who do in order to make sure they understand that the fees will be heavily increased next year. According to studies, students who start in 2012 will face an average £56,000 in debt upon graduation. However, those who decide to start this September will only suffer an average debt of £27,000.

University of West London’s head of recruitment, Clare Beckett, says that gap years aren’t a thing of the present, and she can see them not existing in the future. There are very few at her university, which is due to charge £7,500 next year for tuition, who want to defer their place in a course. Any students who do have been or are being called for a reminder that there will be a jump in fees and asked if they really wish to defer. Very few that they have already spoken with have decided to still take a gap year.

However, even if all of them wanted to be placed into a course this September, they wouldn’t all be able to. This is due to the new government cap on university numbers. There are currently about 350,000 students under unprecedented pressure to get into 40,000 available spots through last-minute clearing today.

Worcester University vice-chancellor Professor David Green says that universities should be able to take on more than the 350,000 yearly limit. Each university has a specific cap imposed by the government, and they are fined if they exceed the limit by even one student. This is a false economy, as the government saves money if people get higher education, since they won’t go onto the unemployment queue, which costs £2,500 yearly in benefit payments alone. He says the government needs to lift the cap.

Aside from this, it’s also been revealed that teens who try to resit their A-levels following bad grades will be shut out of top universities. More institutions – including University College London and those in Sheffield, Birmingham and Edinburgh – have started to crack down on students who boost their scores by testing a second time. Students are banned from retaking a whole A-level to get onto some of the most sought-after courses, like medicine and law.

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