04/08/2011 13:23 BST | Updated 04/10/2011 06:12 BST

English Universities Expecting Drop In Student Numbers

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- More than half of English universities are expecting to see a drop in students next year, a report has revealed.

Overall, the higher education sector expects to see student numbers decrease by 1.9% in 2012/13. But some institutions are expecting the fall to be much greater.

According to information published in a Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) report, 56% of universities are expecting to see the numbers of UK and EU undergraduates drop next year, the same year that annual tuition fees will triple to £9,000.

The report, which looks at the financial health of England's university sector, reveals that one institution is expecting to see numbers drop by 20%, while one or two others say they are likely to fall by just over 10%.

One in five institutions (20%) are expecting to see no change in student numbers, according to the report, which was first covered by the Times Higher Education magazine. And nearly one in four (24%) universities are forecasting small rises in numbers.

These forecasts were collected from institutions in April.

It comes as the Government publishes new proposals which would allow smaller institutions to become universities.

The move would lead to the biggest expansion of the sector for 20 years.

Under the plans, institutions would be able to apply for the title of "university" if they have 1,000 students, and of those, 750 studying for a degree.

Currently, institutions can apply for the "university" title if they have at least 4,000 students, and of those, at least 3,000 studying for a degree.