Today, UCAS publishes analysis on applications for full-time undergraduate courses to UK universities and colleges made by the 15 January deadline, for courses starting in September 2019.
Posted Thu 7 February 2019 - 00:01

A total of 561,420 people have applied to start a course in 2019, almost 2,500 more than at the equivalent point last year, and the first increase in three years.

Across the UK, the key findings are:

  • in England, a record 38.8 per cent of the 18 year old population have applied. This is a 1.4 percentage point increase on the application rate at this time in 2018. The increase in the application rate comes alongside a 1.8 per cent fall in the total number of 18 year olds in England, demonstrating a growing demand for higher education
  • in Northern Ireland, 46.8 per cent of 18 year olds have applied (down 0.7 percentage points)
  • in Scotland, the 18 year old application rate remains 32.5 per cent
  • in Wales, the application rate is 32.2 per cent (up 0.2 percentage points)

The gap between the most and least advantaged applicants has narrowed, as a record 23.2 per cent of young people classified as living in the most disadvantaged areas of the UK (POLAR4 quintile 1) have applied, up 1.3 percentage points. This compares to 53.5 per cent of those living in the most advantaged areas, a growth of 1 percentage point.

The total number of applicants across the UK stands at 453,840. This is a fall of less than 1 per cent, against a backdrop of an almost 2 per cent fall in the UK’s 18 year old population.

The number of applicants from the European Union has increased by one per cent, to 43,890. There are a record number of applicants from outside the EU – 63,690 have applied to study in the UK, an increase of 9 per cent.

The figures are based on analysis of undergraduate applications received at UCAS by the 15 January deadline. The deadline guarantees students their application will be considered by their chosen universities and colleges. 

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive said, ‘In this time of uncertainty, it’s welcome news to see more EU and international students wanting to come and study in the UK. 

‘Alongside this, demand from UK 18 years old students remains strong, despite the falling numbers of this age group in the population. The unexpected rise in the application rate from English 18 year olds, against the population trend, signals they still recognise the challenge and rewards of full-time undergraduate study.

'However, interest in our apprenticeships hub and our insight research shows that almost a quarter of this age group are also considering an apprenticeship at the same time, and we can expect students to keep their options open.

‘In addition, it’s important to remember that students can still apply until 30 June, and afterwards directly to Clearing. And we know that mature students are more likely to apply later in the year.‘

All published data can be found in the data and analysis section of

UCAS Press Office

01242 545 469

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.


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.

Related news