How have applications for full-time undergraduate higher education in the UK changed in 2012?
As part of our ongoing commitment to providing data and insight on admissions to higher education, UCAS has today published a report exploring application behaviour across the UK in the 2012 admissions cycle compared to previous years. This is based on applications for full-time courses made via UCAS up to 24 March 2012 and takes account of demographic fluctuations in applicant populations. The main findings of this report are:
- The application rate of 18 year olds from England has fallen by around one percentage point in 2012 (to 34 per cent) against a recent trend of annual increases of around one percentage point. This suggests around one young English applicant in 20 who might have been expected to apply in 2012 did not do so - a fall of 5 per cent, approximately 15,000 applicants.
- In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the application rates of 18 year olds for study in their own country have broadly continued their recent trends in 2012.
- In England, age groups of 19 and older are between 15 and 20 per cent less likely to apply in 2012 than in 2011. This amounts to 15,000 fewer English applicants aged 19, and a further 15,000 fewer aged 20 and over, than if application rates had stayed the same as in 2011.
- There is no sign that applicants applied a year earlier than usual in 2011.
- Application rates for 18 year olds from more advantaged backgrounds fell by more between 2011 and 2012 than those from less advantaged backgrounds. However, rates for more disadvantaged applicants have been growing at a higher level in recent cycles: taking this into account, the proportional decline is similar across these backgrounds.
- Most courses applied to by English applicants have tuition fees (before any fee waivers or other support) at or near the maximum £9,000.
- There has been no substantial move towards or away from higher fee courses compared to choices made by young applicants in previous cycles.
- Applicants from both advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds are making much the same choice of courses in 2012 as applicants from those groups in previous cycles.
- The application rate of disadvantaged young people in England to institutions whose acceptances typically hold high UCAS tariff points in 2012 is materially the same as in 2010 and 2011.
- There have been no increases in the share of applications for live-at-home study in 2012 across UK.
- Young English applicants have not substantially changed their choices in 2012 in terms of expected graduate salaries.
Commenting on the undergraduate applicant statistics analysis released on Monday 9 July, UCAS Chief Executive Mary Curnock Cook said:
"This in-depth analysis of the 2012 applications data shows that, although there has been a reduction in application rates where tuition fees have increased, there has not been a disproportionate effect on more disadvantaged groups . The 10 per cent decline in applications to English institutions reported in regular UCAS statistics is more properly interpreted as a reduced young application rate of about 5 per cent after correcting for falling populations. Application rates for older applicants have declined slightly more - by about 15 - 20 per cent.
"By retrofitting 2012 tuition fee rates to previous cycles we also show that higher or lower fee rates appear to make little significant difference to application patterns. We also find no evidence of an increase in plans to study while living at home, or any significant shift towards courses with higher starting salaries on graduation.
"There is still an excess of applications over places available in 2012 although this is less exaggerated than in the previous two cycles."
Download the key findings and summary document
Download the full report
Download the data for all the figures used in the report.
Download the figures used in the report.
UCAS is the organisation responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK. Last year over 700,000 people applied to enter full-time undergraduate study in the UK through UCAS. We also help potential students find the right course and we publish a wealth of statistics for use by higher education sector.
Press Office contacts
UCAS Press Office: 01242 545 469 (or 0044 1242 545469 if overseas)
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