First exam year since pandemic sees record numbers entering higher education

A record number of UK 18-year-olds have secured a place at university or college after sitting their exams, new UCAS data shows.
Posted Thu 22 September 2022 - 00:01

Figures released today (Thursday 22 September) show 275,390 students have been accepted onto a course, higher than the 272,500 (+1%) last year and up from 239,460 in 2019 (+ 15%) – the last time results were based on exams.

The new analysis, of the 28-day point after results days for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (15 September), puts the entry rate for 18-year-olds at 37.3%. This is slightly lower than 37.9% last year, when teachers assessed students’ grades, but notably higher than 33.8% in 2019.

The number of 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged areas in the UK (POLAR4 quintile 1) accepted into university has hit an all-time high – a total of 31,890, which is an uplift from 30,280 last year (+5%) and 26,000 in 2019 (+23%) – as widening participation continues to grow.

And student satisfaction is high, with a UCAS survey* revealing 93% of respondents were happy with their confirmed place.

Other key points include:

  • Record numbers of UK 18-year-olds have secured a place in Clearing – 33,280, up from 24,100 in 2021 and 33,000 in 2019.
  • Clearing data published by UCAS on results day showed 21,000 students did not have a place after getting their grades. New UCAS analysis today shows 58% have since gone on to secure a place, compared to 55% in 2021 and 62% in 2019.
  • Students can also use Clearing to change their mind and new UCAS analysis reveals 14,760 of UK 18-year-olds used this route to switch courses. Of those students, 11,800 (80%) secured a new place at an equivalent or higher tariff university.

Meanwhile, UCAS data shows 62,200 international students of all ages (12% of all accepted students) and 78,160 mature learners – students aged 21 and over – have been placed at university (a 10% decline on 2021 and an 11% decline from 2019).

UCAS presents apprenticeship opportunities alongside undergraduate choices in Clearing, and new data shows 1,200 students used the UCAS service to apply for live apprenticeship vacancies on results day alone, a 6% uplift from 1,130 last year.

This Clearing also saw the first T level cohort receive their results, with 410 of the 510 applicants (80%) accepted onto a course.

UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant said: “This year we see a record number of students, including high numbers of disadvantaged students, about to start their course at university or college based on exams results.

“We predicted Clearing would be dynamic this year and I am pleased to see record numbers of UK 18-year-old students secure a place in Clearing. This includes significant numbers of students making more ambitious choices by using the digital tools we make available to them. With high demand for university places, it also shows that students are now confidently using a more digital and personalised Clearing to explore other options available to them.

“For students who are still considering their options, UCAS is on hand to help them make an informed decision that best suits their aspirations. There remains plenty of choice with more than 22,000 courses available in Clearing, along with a range of apprenticeship opportunities.”

Today’s statistics are available in our interactive dashboard, allowing users to visualise and tailor the reporting to their needs.

Clearing remains open until 18 October. End of cycle reporting will be published at the end of the year.

Ends


UCAS Press Office

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Notes for editors

*Survey sent to a sample of 18-year-old applicants from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the day after JCQ results day, resulting in 1,858 responses. The results have been weighted to be representative of the population of 18-year-old applicants from the three nations.

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education.

Our services support young people making post-18 choices, as well as mature learners, by providing information, advice, and guidance to inspire and facilitate educational progression to university, college, or a degree apprenticeship.

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.

We also provide a wide range of research, consultancy and advisory services to schools, colleges, careers services, professional bodies, and employers, including apprenticeships.

We’re a successful and fast-growing organisation, which helps hundreds of thousands of people every year. We're committed to delivering a first-class service to all our customers — they're at the heart of everything we do.

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