The number of candidates opting to study social sciences at university has slumped dramatically, early indications for next year show.
Figures reveal a drop of 20 per cent compared with this academic year - from around 71,000 students to just under 57,000. Academics believe a key reason could be that students are opting for courses that will reap them a higher cash dividend once they seek employment - now they are faced with paying fees of up to 9,000 a year.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, announced the figures at a seminar held at the British Academy to discuss how humanities and social sciences were faring under the new fees regime. She stressed it was too soon to draw a conclusion, but said: "We may be moving into an environment where students believe utilitarian outcomes are much more important."
The social sciences' 20 per cent drop compares with a 14 per cent drop in applications overall. Applications for humanities courses appear to be doing slightly better with a 12 per cent drop from 121,026 to 106, 731. The so-called "Stem" subjects - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - are faring better with a fall of 11 per cent. …