Debate of the week: Too much competition for courses?

by Emily

This week, the university think tank Million+ revealed that competition for university places this year is set to be tougher than ever. According to Professor Les Ebdon, chair of Million+, applications for degree places will rise by nearly 40% in some institutions and an average of 20% in new universities. Professor Ebdon says that many students will fail to gain a place on a course as a result of this huge competition for places, deeming it an "absolute tragedy".

With no end in sight to this growing trend, should we still be encouraging our young people to apply for a place on a degree? Or should we encourage them instead to avoid the competition, and potential stress and disappointment?

Clearly, our universities are being overstretched. Funding cuts are on the horizon, as we reported last week, and this will surely decrease universities' capacity - terrible timing, given this swell in interest from students. What's more, the continuing economic crisis has made more people than ever consider attending university, whether that's to increase their job prospects or to change careers after the death of their sector.

However, we at First Tutors believe that this is no reason to dissuade young people from applying to university. Education will always be important and those with the right aptitude and attitude should always be encouraged to improve their skills and knowledge.

What's more, competition is a fact of life, and there is nothing wrong with having to work hard to gain a place at university. A spokesperson for the Business, Innovation and Skills department told the BBC: "The number of places in any year has always been limited and getting a place at university has always been, and should be, a competitive process."

Despite the rise in applications, the basic fact remains the same: universities will always be most interested in those students who work hard and show enthusiasm and aptitude for their subject. Let's encourage young people to demonstrate those qualities and focus on their exam revision, rather than worrying about the competition.