You are here

Almost four in ten young people in England apply to university – a new record

Today, UCAS publishes an analysis of all full-time UCAS Undergraduate applications made by 30 June 2019 – the final deadline for applying to up to five universities or colleges simultaneously. The analysis is published within nine working days of the deadline.
Posted Thu 11 July 2019 - 00:01

Across the UK, the key findings are:

  • 39.5 per cent of all 18 year olds in England have submitted a UCAS application, up from 38.1 per cent at the same point last year, and a new record
  • in Northern Ireland, 46.9 per cent of 18 year olds have applied (down 0.7 percentage points)
  • in Scotland, the 18 year old application rate is 32.7 per cent (down 0.1 percentage point)
  • in Wales, the application rate is 32.9 per cent (up 0.2 percentage points), and a joint record with 2016 at this point in the application cycle

The number of young people from the UK applying has increased by 1 per cent, despite a 1.9 per cent fall in the overall 18 year old population of the UK. 275,520 young people have applied – up from 272,920 at this point in 2018.

The volume of EU applicants has risen 1 per cent, to 50,650. There is a record number of applicants from outside the EU – 81,340 students have applied to study in the UK, an increase of 8 per cent.

China continues its rapid growth, with applicant numbers up 30 per cent to 19,760 – this means that, for the first time, there are more applicants from China than Northern Ireland (18,520).

Overall, 638,030 people have applied in the current application cycle – a rise of over 1,000 on 2018.  

For the first time, UCAS has published reports by the various indexes of multiple deprivation across the UK (see Notes for editors below).

  • In England, the number of young people applying from the most deprived areas has increased 6 per cent to 38,770, while applications from the least deprived areas have fallen.
  • In Northern Ireland, all areas have seen a fall in applications, of between 2 and 7 percent. 
  • In Scotland, young applicants from the most deprived areas have grown by 3 per cent, while all other areas have seen falls.
  • In Wales, applicants from the most deprived areas remained at 1,390, with a mixed picture across different areas.

All data is available to analyse in a new interactive dashboard on the UCAS website, allowing users to visualise and tailor the reporting to their own specification. Reports are also available on that page as individual PDF and CSV files.

Clare Marchant, UCAS' Chief Executive, said: ‘The global appeal of UK higher education has never been clearer, with record, demographic beating application rates in England and Wales, and the steep rise in international applications, especially from China.

‘Today’s analysis shows how attractive undergraduate study continues to be for young people, although university isn’t the only route on offer. Our survey insight shows that around a quarter of students are interested in apprenticeships as an alternative option.

‘With Clearing now open, there’s plenty of choice for everyone at the end of the year. The post-qualification application route is available as a plan A for many, with over 17,500 using it to apply with results in hand last year.

‘There are opportunities for a new direction on over 30,000 courses at ucas.com, for anyone who’s already applied and now wants to change their mind, as we’ve streamlined the process for those reconsidering their original choices.’


UCAS Press Office

Notes for editors

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education. We manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people, each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

The various indexes of multiple deprivation (IMD, NIMDM, SIMD, WIMD) differ across the four countires of the UK and are not directly comparable with each other.

Scotland

In Scotland, there is a substantial section of higher education that is not included in UCAS' figures. This is mostly full-time higher education provided in further education colleges, which represents around one third of young full-time undergraduate study in Scotland – this proportion varies by geography and background within Scotland. Accordingly, figures on applications and application rates in Scotland reflect only those applying for full-time undergraduate study through UCAS.

In the 2015 cycle, there were also changes to the scope of the data recorded in the UCAS scheme for Scotland (including teacher training programmes in Scotland moving from the dedicated UCAS Teacher Training scheme into the UCAS Undergraduate scheme).

Related news