The Independent Commission on Fees, established in January to monitor the impact of the fee hike, compared UCAS application figures in 2010, before the new payments regime was announced, with those of 2012, the first year that students will be directly affected.
The total number of people applying to English universities in 2010 was 421,448, and has fallen to 384,170 this year.
Among 18 and 19-year-old applicants, there was a fall from 298,155 in 2010 to 276,629 in 2012: a drop of 7.2%.
Applicant numbers are also down compared with 2011.
University tuition fees are set to rise next year, with students paying just over £8,500 on average.
A third of English institutions will charge the maximum £9,000 as standard for a degree next year, according to official figures.
Around three in four will charge the top rate for at least one of their undergraduate courses.
Union leaders said that the latest figures show that fees of more than £6,000 are becoming the norm rather than the exception.
English university fee levels for 2013/14 were published by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) today, as it released individual institutions' latest plans for ensuring that disadvantaged teenagers are not priced out of higher education.
Shabana Mahmood MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for Higher Education, said: “The Government’s unfair, unnecessary and unsustainable decision to treble tuition fees to £9,000, while cutting university funding by 80 per cent, is putting many young people off university."