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The higher education minister, Bill Rammell, has admitted that the government is anticipating a fall in the number of students applying to university this year because of the introduction of top-up fees. Applications for courses starting this September were boosted in what was widely interpreted as an attempt by students beat the introduction of £3,000 fees from next year.

Rammell's comments came as the first application figures for 2006 were published by the admissions authority, Ucas. They revealed that applications for Oxbridge, medicine, veterinary sciences and dentistry overall are almost static compared with last year. However, there was a fall of applications from UK-based students, who will be affected by top-up fees. That shortfall was offset by a surge in applications from international and EU students.

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That shortfall was offset by a surge in applications from international and EU students.

I find this a bit strange. Applications from EU students were apparently sharply up, but they, too, will have to pay the higher fees and aren't even eligible for loans or grants... Any explanations?

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That shortfall was offset by a surge in applications from international and EU students.

I find this a bit strange. Applications from EU students were apparently sharply up, but they, too, will have to pay the higher fees and aren't even eligible for loans or grants... Any explanations?

Yes. The figures are partly bolstered by continuing increases in the number of students from the so-called accession states which have recently joined the EU.

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