Courses ‘under pressure’ as student numbers rise

The number of students hoping for a place on art and design courses this September is already at record levels and is set to keep rising after predictions that this year will be the last for free degree-level education.

Since the Government’s recent announcement that students will have to pay their own tuition fees – amounting to 1000 per year – many are scrambling to get on to courses through last-minute applications, or clearing.

The rush might mean that colleges take on more students than they can really cope with. Design Council education and training director Moira Fraser Steele predicts “the quality of courses will drop” as a result.

Tony Higgins, chief executive of Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) – which now includes the art and design applications which were formerly handled by ADAR – agrees: “If more people go into clearing courses could be under pressure.” This year there has been a 38 per cent rise in students trying to gain a place through clearing.

By not being able to take a year out “many design students will be losing valuable experience that is gained from working abroad. If they are more mature they can manage their time better,” Fraser Steele adds.

Although design and art students only account for around two per cent of the national student total, there are already more than 38 000 art and design school applicants this year – an increase of 13 000 from 1996.

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