Two Midland universities that criticised the introduction of increased tuition fees have bucked a national drop in students applying for degree courses.

Coventry University, where former vice-chancellor Dr Mike Goldstein was one of the country's most outspoken opponent of the policy - reported a seven per cent rise.

And Wolverhampton University, whose newly appointed vice-chancellor professor Caroline Gipps attacked top-up fees as "quite the wrong decision", found no change in applicants.

Nationally a three-fold increase in the annual amount students are charged from September resulted in a 3.4 per cent slump in applicants on last year.

In the West Midlands, the universities of Birmingham, Aston and Warwick all reported a dip of 6.3 per cent, 8.2 per cent and 0.6 per cent.

The overall drop of nearly 13,000 students for the start of the 2006/07 academic year in England was directly attributed by the National Union of Students to raised fees.

Coventry University put its success down to "generous" bursaries of between £1,000 and £2,000 and providing employment-relevant courses.

Spokeswoman Ali Bushnell said: "Students are paying more for their education and want to get the most out of it.

"So we have been working closely with employers and graduates to try and find the type of courses they need to ensure once they graduate they are fit for employment." ..SUPL: