Too few 18-year-olds? That's no reason to start shutting universities

An article published in the Guardian last week asked what would happen if a university went bust. Wolverhampton was one of the examples of a university that has seen “a serious decline” in acceptances from 18-year-old UK students in the past four years, and therefore could be at risk.


As the article says: “If you are losing students every year you just can’t go on doing that – something has to happen.” This may be true, but focusing solely on the lower numbers of 18-year-olds enrolling paints a too simplistic picture.


The article notes that Wolverhampton’s intake of 18-year-olds has fallen by 12% in a year, Cumbria’s by 13% and Southampton Solent and Sunderland by 18% and 26% respectively. This is against the backdrop of the teenage population declining steeply in the UK. Between 2015 and 2020, it is expected to fall by around 75,000(pdf) – which means a shrinking of the cohort by some 14% between 2010 and the early 2020s before it begins to rise again.


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