“Thousands of teenagers have scrapped plans for a gap year to escape a crippling hike in university tuition fees.
This year’s entrants, who receive their A-level results on Thursday, are the last to enjoy a degree costing £3,290 a year before tuition fees increase to up to £9,000 in 2012.
As a result, just 6,000 18-year-olds have deferred a firm offer of a place on a university course for this year, according to admissions service Ucas. Last year 20,000 did.
Universities are baffled as to why anyone would take a gap year this year and are telephoning those who want to do so to check they understand the increase in fees.
Studies show students starting in 2012 will face an average of £56,000 of debt on graduation, compared with around £27,000 if they started their studies this September.
Clare Beckett, head of recruitment at the University of West London, which is to charge £7,500, said: ‘Gap years are a thing of the past. I can see them not existing. We have had very few people actually wanting to defer.”