University applications for computer science courses in the UK have fallen by 7.7 percent in 2012, compared with last year.

The applicant figures from UCAS, which were reported as at 19 December 2011, showed that there were 37,367 applications for computer science courses in 2012, more than 3,000 fewer applicants than in 2011 (40,473).

Applications also fell 3.4 percent for mathematical and computer science courses, from 34,095 in 2011 to 32,939 this year.

The decline is not unexpected given the new higher tuition fees – up to £9,000 a year – coming into effect this year.

However, what is surprising is the fall in the face of recent research from the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU), which revealed that the unemployment rate for IT graduates in the UK had fallen for the first time last year since the start of the recession.

"UK employers are concerned about the continued decline in applications to computer science-related degrees, and also about the mismatch between the skills of computer science graduates and the skills needed in the workplace," said sector skills council e-skills UK CEO Karen Price.

The ultimate application deadline for most courses and universities is 15 January, and UCAS expects there to be a late surge in numbers.

"Evidence of a late surge as the 15 January deadline approaches is now emerging. Applicants are taking longer to research their choices but the applications flow has speeded up, as these statistics show," said Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS chief executive.

"It remains too early to make predictions about the final year-on-year figures, but we will be able to get a clearer picture after the deadline has passed."