First rise in university applications for three years

First rise in university applications for three years


A total of 561,420 people have applied to start a course in 2019, almost 2,500 more than at the equivalent point last year, and the first increase in three years.

Across the UK, the key findings are:

  • in England, a record 38.8% of the 18 year old population have applied. This is a 1.4% increase on the application rate at this time in 2018. The increase in the application rate comes alongside a 1.8% fall in the total number of 18 year olds in England, demonstrating a growing demand for higher education
  • in Northern Ireland, 46.8% of 18 year olds have applied (down 0.7%)
  • in Scotland, the 18 year old application rate remains 32.5%
  • in Wales, the application rate is 32.2% (up 0.2%)

The gap between the most and least advantaged applicants has narrowed, as a record 23.2% of young people classified as living in the most disadvantaged areas of the UK (POLAR4 quintile 1) have applied, up 1.3%. This compares to 53.5% of those living in the most advantaged areas, a growth of 1%.

The total number of applicants across the UK stands at 453,840. This is a fall of less than 1%, against a backdrop of an almost 2% fall in the UK’s 18 year old population.

The number of applicants from the European Union has increased by 1%, to 43,890. There are a record number of applicants from outside the EU – 63,690 have applied to study in the UK, an increase of 9%.

The figures are based on analysis of undergraduate applications received at UCAS by the 15 January deadline. The deadline guarantees students their application will be considered by their chosen universities and colleges. 

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive said, "In this time of uncertainty, it’s welcome news to see more EU and international students wanting to come and study in the UK. 

"Alongside this, demand from UK 18 years old students remains strong, despite the falling numbers of this age group in the population. The unexpected rise in the application rate from English 18 year olds, against the population trend, signals they still recognise the challenge and rewards of full-time undergraduate study.

'However, interest in our apprenticeships hub and our insight research shows that almost a quarter of this age group are also considering an apprenticeship at the same time, and we can expect students to keep their options open.

‘In addition, it’s important to remember that students can still apply until 30 June, and afterwards directly to Clearing. And we know that mature students are more likely to apply later in the year.‘

All published data can be found in the data and analysis section of


Thursday, 7 February 2019

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