The number of UK 18-year-olds applying to an undergraduate course this year is the second highest on record, new UCAS data shows.
Figures for the January Equal Consideration Deadline show 314,660 UK 18-year-olds have applied, down slightly from 320,420 at the same point in the cycle last year (-1.8%) but significantly up on the pre-pandemic figure of 275,300 in January 2020 (+14.3%). This puts the application rate for UK 18-year-olds at 41.5% compared to 43.4% in 2022 but up from 39.5% in 2020. This is mirrored in the number of total applicants (all ages, all domiciles) compared to last year - 596,590 this year, down from 610,720 in 2022 (-2.3%) but higher than 568,330 in 2020 (+5.0%). There are also strong variations by subject (all ages, all domiciles), with robust growth in courses such as computing (+9.6%) and law (+2.1%) but a fall in courses such as nursing (-18.6%) and education teaching (-15.6%) – although the number of applications for these courses exceeds the number of acceptances seen in last year’s cycle, showing there is still plenty of demand for places. Other headlines include:
- While the application rate gap between the most and least disadvantaged (POLAR4) UK 18-year-olds has widened slightly (2.16 compared to 2.10 in 2022), the number of applicants from the most disadvantaged areas in the UK (POLAR4 quintile 1) is still the second highest on record at 36,470, which is up +19.1% on 2020 figures.
- International demand continues to grow, with a +3.1% increase in applicants of all ages – the uplift driven by countries such as Nigeria (+23.1%), India (+5.4%) and the United States (+9.8%). Applications from China are down (-4.2%), most likely due to Covid-19 restrictions and disrupted learning.
- The number of UK mature applicants has fallen compared to last year (-14%), mostly due to a decrease in nursing course demand.
- Total reapplications (all ages, all domiciles) has increased (+3.9%), with the majority of these submitted by 19-year-olds. The total number of 19-year-old applicants has also risen compared to last year (+0.8%), showing strong commitment among this age group to pursue a place at university or college.
- Interest in apprenticeships has risen for another yet year, up 8.7% compared to the same point in the cycle last year – meaning almost half of all UCAS users have expressed an interest in apprenticeship opportunities.