A record proportion of 18 year olds, from across the UK, gained a place at university or college in 2017. This is despite a fall of 1.2 per cent in the 18 year old population in the UK in 2017.
Posted Mon 27 November 2017 - 00:01

A record proportion of 18 year olds, from across the UK, gained a place at university or college in 2017. This is despite a fall of 1.2 per cent in the 18 year old population in the UK in 2017.

The UCAS data and analysis released today (Monday 27 November) is the first wave of information to be published from the UCAS End of Cycle Report 2017.

It shows the proportion of 18 year olds in the UK population who gained a place in higher education has increased by 0.7 percentage points, to 32.6 per cent – the highest on record. This equates to an overall increase in the number of placed UK 18 year olds to 241,585, up 1.1% from 2016.

Clare Marchant, Chief Executive of UCAS, said: ‘These headline entry rates for UK 18 year olds indicate that young people are increasingly attracted to full-time undergraduate education. It is encouraging to see almost 86% of those who applied to university were accepted – a record high.

‘Overall, there was a very slight decrease of 0.5 per cent in the total number of UK students entering higher education this year, with decreases in mature students being most significant. Whilst we can speculate about the reasons for the reduction in mature students entering higher education, more work would be sensible to better understand the drivers behind this.

‘Further releases of data from our End of Cycle Report 2017 in the coming weeks will tell us more about success in widening participation, and other key areas.'

From today’s data release, different trends in entry rate are present across the different countries of the UK. The entry rate for 18 year olds in England increased by 0.8 percentage points to 33.3 per cent, whilst the entry rate for the same group in Scotland increased by 0.6 percentage points to 25.9 per cent. The entry rate for Northern Ireland decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 34.5 per cent, and for Wales it fell 0.1 percentage points to 29.4 per cent.

The number of international students (excluding those from EU countries) who have been accepted increased to a record high of 40,245, up 5.0 per cent on 2016. The number of EU students placed fell by 2.1 per cent on last year, to 30,700.

Taking domestic, EU and international students together, more than half a million students (533,890) were accepted into UK higher education. This is the second highest figure on record, a slight fall of 0.2 per cent on 2016.

The End of Cycle Report 2017 will be published in four waves from today, until publication in full on Thursday 14 December. The above findings all come from the Summary of applicants and acceptances, and Patterns by age sections of the End of Cycle Report 2017, available from today at www.ucas.com/2017-end-cycle-report.

There will be a briefing for members of the media at 14:00 on Tuesday 12 December, at BMA House Conference Centre, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP.

To register for this, and receive further information about the briefing, or for any other questions about the End of Cycle Report 2017, contact:

  • Felicity Cowie, Head of Media and Corporate Communications, at f.cowie@ucas.ac.uk
  • Rosalind Moore, Public Relations and Communications Officer, at r.moore@ucas.ac.uk or on 01242 545 469


Notes to editors

Every year, UCAS publishes an End of Cycle Report, which analyses data gathered from each annual cycle of undergraduate applications to higher education in the UK. The growth of this data, and opportunities for analysis and context, has meant that this year, for the first time, UCAS is releasing this material in waves. This enables us to share it as quickly as possible.

  • The material released today under embargo is attached.
  • Key findings from today’s release of information will be available at End of Cycle Report 2017 from Monday 27 November.
  • We will issue embargoed media releases, and an updated summary of key findings, ahead of all future waves of published information.

About data and analysis related to Scotland

In Scotland, there is a substantial section of provision 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.

Accordingly, the statistics on UCAS acceptances in these data resources reflect only that majority of full-time undergraduate study which uses UCAS Undergraduate.

From the 2015 cycle onwards, applications to postgraduate teacher training programmes in Scotland were included in the UCAS Undergraduate admissions scheme. Previously, these were recruited through UCAS Teacher Training. In 2015, around 120 courses at providers in Scotland moved into the UCAS Undergraduate scheme, estimated to represent around 2,000 acceptances, mostly aged 21 or over. Comparisons between 2016 and 2014 (or earlier cycles) will be affected by this change.

About UCAS

UCAS is a charity, and is the UK's shared admissions service for higher education. We manage applications from around 700,000 applicants each year for full-time undergraduate courses, at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.


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