Record proportion of English and Scottish 18 year olds accepted into university

Record proportion of English and Scottish 18 year olds accepted into university


The third release of UCAS’ 2018 End of Cycle Report shows continued increases in the proportion of young people entering higher education from most regions of the UK. Only the East of England, North East, and Yorkshire and Humberside saw small decreases compared to last year.

Around 60% of 18 year old UK students applied with A levels alone, and 10% solely with a BTEC qualification. Almost 8% held a combination of A levels and BTECS, and 6% held SQA Highers. 16% of applicants also held another type of qualification, such as Cambridge Technical, Pre-U or Extended Project qualifications, up almost 3 percentage points from 2017.

The likelihood of students being accepted with lower A level grades continues to grow, with 80% of applicants holding DDD (or equivalent) accepted in 2018. This pattern of acceptance at lower grades is also reflected in BTEC students, where acceptance rates for PPP applicants increased from 50% in 2013 to 70% this year.

There is little difference between reformed and non-reformed BTEC qualifications affecting whether an applicant receives an offer. Predicted grades of both types of BTEC are being treated comparably by universities, despite different predicted grade distributions. Reforms to BTEC qualifications have also not affected an applicant’s chance of being accepted onto a course.

The number of international applicants accepted from several key countries has grown. 10,180 students from China secured a place, up 10% on 2017. Hong Kong, Spain, Poland, Romania, and India also saw increases in 2018. France, Malaysia, Italy, and Cyprus complete the top ten international countries, although each saw fewer acceptances than 2017.

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive, said: "Today’s release confirms a key trend over recent years – there’s never been a better time to apply for higher education. Despite the ongoing decline of 18 year olds in the population, the proportion of young people applying and being accepted is at record levels across large parts of the UK, showing a degree is as attractive as ever.

"However, while an individual student’s potential to succeed on an undergraduate course could’ve been shown during an interview, through a portfolio, or personal statement, universities and colleges must be mindful of accepting applicants with lower grades. Students must be appropriately supported during their studies, so they can flourish on their chosen course.

"We’re working with schools and universities to improve the accuracy of predicted grades, exploring the different ways teachers make predictions, and how they are used by admissions teams when making offers. Our good practice guide will be published in the new year.

"The continuing, global appeal of studying in the UK is clear by the increased acceptance numbers from several key countries."

The full report and data files are available in the ‘Data and analysis’ section of  

Today’s release is also accompanied by the first set of the 2018 end of cycle data resources. These free to access, downloadable files cover over one million data points, with interactive data explorers for users to visualise and tailor the reporting.


Thursday, 13 December 2018

Share this article

Any questions? Any comments?

Your instant reactions to this article can be posted here.

Be the first to make a comment...