The number of students applying for places at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) has increased by nearly five times the national average, it has been revealed.

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Statistics show a 19pc rise in applications to UCS, bringing it to the highest level since 2012 when higher tuition fees were introduced.

The national increase in applications submitted before the January 15 deadline this year was just 4pc.

It comes as the university campus, which as well as its main Ipswich campus has sites at Lowestoft College and Great Yarmouth College, takes steps to become an independent institution with the power to award its own degrees.

The number of applications from students outside of the region has also increased by 2pc which, according to provost Richard Lister, which he said indicated that UCS had “begun to build a reputation nationally”.

“The rise in applications is positive news for the institution as we move towards independence and gaining our own degree awarding powers and university title,” said Mr Lister.

“We have seen applications to UCS continue to grow following a period of uncertainty within the sector following the fee rise. There now seems to be a real desire from young people to develop their knowledge at university level and also amongst mature students realising the potential they have and what a degree can help them achieve.”

In December last year UCS announced it would be making staff cuts after failing to attract enough students.

In an email sent by Mr Lister it was revealed that about 4,500 people are enrolled at UCS, despite a target of 7,500 students by 2015. He said there was a “significant gap” between what the university earns and spends and that £2m would need to be saved from the budget which came “overwhelmingly from student fees”.

YMr Lister said the rise in applications would not affect this review, which is more to do with where students are based than the number on roll.

He said: “What we will be doing is making sure that we have people at the right place and in the right course… to enable us to grow.”

He said the rise in applications had been reflected across the board, “which is really encouraging”.

Seven new members have been appointed to the UCS board in preparation for a move towards a new governance structure and gaining power to award its own degrees. UCS degrees are currently jointly validated by the University of Essex and the University of East Anglia. In order for them to award their own degrees they must demonstrate effective self-government.

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