Southampton Solent University has recruited almost exactly as many students as last year, despite fears the numbers choosing higher education could plummet in the face of higher tuition fees.

Bosses at the East Park Terrace-based university have revealed nearly 4,000 undergraduates have started their studies this year – virtually exactly the same number as in 2011.

The figures contrast with the experience at the University of Southampton, which saw it recruit 600 fewer students this year because of Government-imposed restrictions on accepting undergraduates who didn’t get top grades.

It comes as a survey has revealed Southampton’s 42,000 students are worth more than £200m a year to the city’s economy, spending an average of more than £160 each a week on rent, food, transport, clothes and going out.

Bosses at Solent University say they are “delighted” with the numbers of students they have attracted from the UK and abroad.

Fears had been raised the controversial rise in tuition fees, which have seen yearly charges go up from £3,200 to up to £9,000 at some higher education institutions, would cause the number opting to study at university plummet.

But that appears not to have happened in Southampton.

Although Southampton University is charging the full amount it was forced to turn away potential recruits during the clearing process because it was restricted on the number of people it could take who did not achieve two As and a B at A-level, meaning it could not fill its places.

Solent has met its targets for undergraduates, including filling additional places it was allocated for being a “reasonably priced” university, because its average fees will be £7,800.

Communications director Trevor Thorne said: “We’re delighted with our performance because a lot of universities across the sector have struggled.

“Our staff have worked very hard and we’re delighted to have reached our targets.”

Solent’s successful recruitment will also boost other areas of the city, according to figures from bank Santander.

Its research found students in Southampton pump an average of £161.80 a week into the city’s economy, meaning those at the two universities contribute more than £206m a year.

Director of Santander Universities, Luis Juste, said: “It’s clear from the research that students play a major role in the city in which they study, making a key contribution to the local economy.”