Architecture’s popularity as a degree subject has fallen year on year despite rising numbers of university applications overall, statistics from UCAS have revealed
Choices for the subject group including architecture, building and planning fell by 486, from 50,109 to 49,623, a drop of around 1 per cent. In contrast, the number of choices made across all subject areas increased by 4.6 per cent between 2010 and 2011. The total number of applicants increased by 1.4 per cent.
Architecture was included in one of only a few subject groups which saw a decrease in choices year on year. Others in this category included linguistics, European languages, philosophy and combined arts. Medicine saw the largest increase in choices, jumping 12.6 per cent.
Professor Andre Brown, head of the University of Liverpool School of Architecture, said architecture applications had remained at a similar level year on year despite an increase of 30 per cent at the university overall. ‘That’s to do with issues like the fee increase, length of course and employment prospects,’ he said.
Michael Trentham of Michael Trentham Architects agreed that financial pressures are contributing to architecture’s falling popularity. He said: ‘It’s a very serious situation but I think the bottom line is it’s an incredibly expensive course because it is seven years long and you end up with a massive debt, plus you don’t earn much for the first 10 years.’
Architecture’s declining popularity could be exacerbated next year when annual university fees increase. Patrick Weber, programme director at the Bartlett School of Architecture, said he was surprised that applications did not rise in anticipation of the fee change.
‘We were expecting to see increased applications this year due to the increase in fees next year but we didn’t see any change,’ he said. ‘We are expecting a fall next year due to fees of around 15-20 per cent.’