The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper, serving Greater Manchester

Nottingham overtakes Manchester as “most popular university”

The University of Nottingham received the most applications for entry in 2012, while Manchester University’s applications have decreased by 11%

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Manchester is no longer the UK’s most popular university with Nottingham receiving the most applications this year, according to the figures released by UCAS.

Nottingham received 49,279 applications for courses beginning in 2012 with Manchester receiving 45,599.

Applications to Manchester University have dropped by 11 percent from 2010 when they received 51,437.

Nottingham’s application figures, meanwhile, have remained stable, seeing an increase of 0.3 percent from 49,279 in 2010 to 49,441 in 2011 for 2012 entry.

The figures from UCAS show that Nottingham, Manchester and Leeds now make up the top three most popular institutions for UK applicants.

Vice Chancellor Nancy Rothwell looked to downplay the significance of the figures. “There is a great variation across discipline areas,” she said.

“It is critical now that we translate excellent applications into confirmed places.”

Dr Paul Greatrix, Registrar at The University of Nottingham, said that he was “delighted by the news”.

“Nottingham is bucking the national trend, which appears to be affecting the recruitment figures of so many of our competitors,” he said.

“These are uncertain times within higher education, with universities continuing to feel the impact of reduced government funding and having to adapt to a very different environment for student recruitment and a new set of student fee arrangements.

“There is no doubt that the overriding factor affecting student choice in this changing landscape is quality — something which The University of Nottingham is able to demonstrate in every aspect of the student experience it offers. We believe this is what makes the difference.”

Nottingham is ranked 19th in The Guardian’s University Guide, with 87 percent of students saying that they are satisfied with their course.

The same table ranks Manchester at number 41, one place above Bournemouth University, and gives Manchester a satisfaction rate of 52 percent.

Speaking to students last year, Dame Nancy acknowledged that teaching standards at Manchester need to improve; and that the University is taking steps to do this.

Professor Clive Agnew, the Vice President for Teaching, Learning and Students, is currently looking to improve the quality of feedback given to students, by ensuring that that there is uniformity in the marking schemes at Manchester.

In terms of research the University of Manchester beats Nottingham, hands down. The institution is ranked 29th in the world according to QS World University Rankings, which ranks universities according to their strengths in academic research. Nottingham University is 74th in the same league table.

Applications for universities nationally through UCAS are down 7.4 percent, with an increased drop in applications from students in England.

It is widely believed that the decision to increase fees for courses in 2012 has had a negative impact on the number of people applying to university. But figures released by UCAS last week suggested that poorer applicants had not been deterred from applying to university by higher fees.

Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS chief executive, said in a statement: “Our analysis shows that decreases in demand are slightly larger in more advantaged groups than in the disadvantaged groups. Widely expressed concerns about recent changes in HE funding arrangements having a disproportionate effect on more disadvantaged groups are not borne out by these data.”

Manchester University accepted 8,952 students last year. 39,732 students are currently attending courses at the University, including undergraduate students and those on teaching and research based postgraduate courses.