Today UCAS publishes the latest applicant data for entry to full-time undergraduate higher education in 2012. These statistics include all applications considered on time for the 15 January equal-consideration deadline.
We also publish the number of applications (choices, not individuals) to each UCAS member institution, within this deadline. This is known as the applications digest.
For the first time UCAS also reports on application rates (see bullet 1) for young people applying to higher education in 2012, as well as rates of application in terms of advantage and disadvantage. Reporting application rates gives a clearer picture of demand because it accounts for annual changes in the population.
UCAS Chief Executive Mary Curnock Cook said: "There has been a headline drop of 7.4% in applicants with a slightly larger fall in England.
"The more detailed analysis of application rates for young people takes account of population changes. This shows a fall of just one percentage point in the application rate in England, with little change across the rest of the UK.
"Our analysis shows that decreases in demand are slightly larger in more advantaged groups than in the disadvantaged groups. Widely expressed concerns about recent changes in HE funding arrangements having a disproportionate effect on more disadvantaged groups are not borne out by these data.
"However, I remain concerned about the wide and increasing gap between the application rate of men compared to women.
"Although applications are down for mature applicants, this is in the context of some very substantial increases in recent cycles. Applications from mature groups are also set against a backdrop of increasingly higher HE participation rates at their school leaving age.
"The indications are that demand for HE will continue to outstrip the number of places available in 2012. Applications are already 50,000 ahead of the number of acceptances in 2011 and last year UCAS received over 100,000 further applications between January and the close of the cycle."