NEW figures show the biggest fall in North East university applications in more than 30 years.
There has been a 14.7 per cent drop on last year’s level, according to data from applications organisation UCAS.
Employer support group the Financial Skills Partnership (FSP), claimed the figures are the first evidence of youngsters being put off by fear of debt, when fees rise to a maximum of £9,000 next year.
Sarah Thwaites, deputy chief executive of the FSP, said, “Young people in the North East may see apprenticeships as an attractive option due to rising university costs.
“They can be seen as part of the solution to bridge the so called ‘skills gap’ identified by George Osborne, and there needs to be more co-operation across a myriad of stakeholders.
“We believe that employers and training agencies in the North East need to be actively involved in bridging this gap.”