APPLICATIONS to universities have fallen by almost 16 per cent in parts of East Lancashire, which education bosses say is a result of increased tuition fees.

The data was collated by the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and experts found there were 26,000 fewer applications from the region in 2012 compared with a year earlier, a fall of 9.4 per cent. Students in England have been put off by rising fees, with the cap on annual tuition fees trebled to £9,000, with most universities choosing to charge the maximum allowed.

In East Lancashire, Pendle saw the biggest drop in university applicants – a fall from 3,663 to 3,085 app-lications (-15.78 per cent), closely followed by the Ribble Valley which saw a decrease from 4,337 to 3,691 (-14.9 per cent).

Burnley also saw a reduction of 9.98 per cent, Blackburn 8.01 per cent and Rossendale and Darwen 7.63 per cent.

Just two of the 75 North West constituencies recorded an increase in applications to university – Rochdale and Makerfield.

Simon Jones, Lancashire secretary of the NUT, said: “Going to university is no longer an automatic choice for a teenager with good A-levels.

“It has become an investment decision that usually must be made by the family as an economic unit, and it is a decision that has significant risk.

“Young people who choose to go to university are burdening themselves with debts of more than £30,000 that will remain with them for decades if they aren’t paid off.”

  • Students from Blackburn and Burnley’s University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) campuses were among the delegation which travelled to London yesterday to protest against tuition fees.