University applications from UK students are down for the second year running, official figures show.
Ucas admissions data from mid-December show applications from English students at their lowest since 2009.
The trebling of maximum tuition fees saw a drop in applications for autumn 2012 but university leaders hoped demand would recover in 2013.
A Ucas spokesman said it was too early to say whether overall applications would be down.
The general deadline for applying to start university in autumn 2013 is 15 January, although people may apply later.
These interim figures were collated by Ucas on 17 December, by which time some 265,730 people living in the UK had applied to start degree courses this autumn, down 6.3% on the same point in 2012.
Among students living in England, applications were down 6.5% on 2012 at 229,932.
The steepest drop in applications was from students living in Wales, down 11.7% to 11,218. Applications from Scottish students fell by 3.9% while there was a marginal increase in applications in Northern Ireland – up 0.5%.
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