The number of applicants for university admission this year has fallen all over the country, with many of last year's unsuccessful candidates reportedly opting for vocational schools instead of another crack at university entrance exams.

The number has fallen by up to half in some provinces, preliminary figures released by local education departments show.

The deadline for submitting applications through education departments was April 14 though candidates have one more week to apply directly to universities and colleges.

Thanh Hoa province's Department of Education and Training said it received 90,000 applications, 2,000 less than last year.

In Hai Duong, the number plunged by nearly 50 percent.

Nguyen Van Xung, head of the local education department's Vocational Office, said many candidates who failed to get into universities and colleges last year joined vocational schools instead of again taking the university entrance examinations this year, leading to a dramatic fall in applications.

Dong Nai is one the few provinces for which figures have been released that actually saw an increase. The Department of Education and Training received 50,000 applications, 2,000 more than last year.

But this was mostly due to an increase of 1,000 in the number of 12th grade students this year, officials said.

Unlike previous years, most candidates this year have mostly applied to universities and colleges near their hometowns instead of those in big cities and provinces.

Khanh Hoa's Department of Education and Training said both phenomena occurred in the province this year.

At An Duong High School in Hai Phong, which received more than 900 applications from its students for forwarding to the local education department, only 50 are for universities and colleges in Hanoi, according to its enrolment board.

The rest were for local universities, it added.

The most popular streams this year are economics and technology, while social sciences and humanities being at the other end of the scale.

Students of Viet Duc High School in Hanoi submitted more than 2,200 applications, with half opting for economics and technology; only three have chosen social sciences and humanities.

At Mac Dinh Chi High School in HCM City's District 6, only a few out of the 2,900 applications are for social sciences and humanities./.