272,500 UK students aged 18 have been accepted into university or college so far this year, a 7% increase on 2020 and a new record.
Posted Tue 7 September 2021 - 11:00

This means 37.9% of the entire UK 18 year old population is due to start a full-time undergraduate course, also a new high and surpassing last year’s equivalent figure of 36.4%.

New analysis published by UCAS today shows the number of students placed onto full-time undergraduate courses in the 2021 admissions cycle as of this morning (28 days after results day for most students across the UK).

As a result of achieving higher grades this year, more young people (228,470, up 15%) have been confirmed onto their first choice of course. This has led to a third (34%) fewer UK 18 year olds using Clearing to get their place to date - 24,110, compared to 36,770 in 2020.

The number of 18 year olds accepted from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in the UK (POLAR4 quintile 1) has exceeded 30,000 (30,260) for the first time, equivalent to 23.5% of that population. This is an increase from 22.6% (and 28,200 accepted students) in 2020.

46,610 (up 5%) students from outside the EU have been accepted, while 12,920 (down 56%) students from the EU have a confirmed place.

In total, 507,610 students (of all ages and all domiciles) have been accepted, down less than 2% from last year, with 47,020 (down 33%) of those using Clearing.

All of today’s statistics can be found in our interactive dashboard, allowing users to visualise and tailor the reporting to their own specification.

UCAS’s CareerFinder, which helps students find jobs and degree/higher apprenticeships, saw a record 2.13 million searches in the last 12 months, up 32% from last year. These searches have resulted in 243,000 job applications, an increase from 171,000 last year (+42%).

UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant said: “Students’ hard work throughout the year in incredibly trying circumstances has been rightly rewarded with more of them achieving the grades to secure their first choice of course. 

“More students placed at their first choice has led to a slower Clearing than we’ve seen in recent years. We know that some students, particularly mature applicants looking to study at their local university or college, often make a late decision through Clearing, so we expect numbers to rise before the end of the cycle, as places remain available on over 20,000 courses.

“There is still time for anyone without firm plans to make an informed decision about their future. UCAS is here to support anyone still considering their options, including apprenticeships, through our trusted, engaging, and timely information and advice, such as our CareerFinder service.”

Clearing remains open for new applicants until 21 September and closes for everyone on 19 October. End of cycle reporting will be published over the winter.


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. 

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 an 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.

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.

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