The rapid increase in the number of young people applying to UK universities over the last five years appears to be tailing off, statistics show.
The figures come as
research reveals that half of today's undergraduates would not have gone to university if they had been forced to pay £9,000 (Dh54,462)-a-year tuition fees.
Figures published by the University and College Admissions Service (Ucas) on Tuesday show that the number of applicants, while at a record high, has only increased by 2.1 per cent in the last year.
Between 2007 and 2008, the number of applicants grew by 8.3 per cent. A year later, this figure climbed to 8.8 per cent. Between 2009 and 2010, the growth was 15.3 per cent.
Many expected a rush to get on to courses before tuition fees rise to up to £9,000 a year in autumn 2012. Almost three-quarters of universities in England intend to almost treble their fees and charge the maximum.
This year's smaller-than-usual increase in applicant numbers may indicate that young people are starting to look for alternatives to university amid fears over the rising cost of degrees.
Last year's spike in applicants is thought to have been triggered in part by the recession and fears over tuition fee rises. More people enrol on degree courses in times of economic hardship.
This year's Ucas figures show more teenagers are applying for vocational degrees, such as engineering and nursing, while fewer are opting for languages, arts and humanities courses. Some 633,811 applicants hope to start full-time undergraduate degree courses this autumn, the Ucas figures reveal.
There are likely to be about 490,000 places available, which will leave more than 100,000 would-be students rejected by all the universities to which they have applied.