Today, UCAS publishes an analysis of all full-time UCAS Undergraduate applications made by the 24 March deadline – the application deadline for some higher education courses in art and design.
Posted Thu 5 April 2018 - 00:01

These are available as a series of reports.

Overall, the proportion of English 18 year olds applying has increased to 37.8%, the highest on record (0.3% up from 2017). There are currently 230,320 English 18 year old applicants to higher education, and, although this is 3,000 (2%) fewer than at this point last year, this reflects a 2.3% fall in the number of 18 year olds in the population.

Demand for higher education also remains strong among young people across the rest of the UK, with application rates from 18 year olds of:

  • 47.6% in Northern Ireland (0% change from 2017)
  • 32.6% in Scotland (0.2% down from 2017)
  • 32.4% in Wales (0.3% up from 2017)

There are now 46,040 EU applicants (up by 2% from last year), and the number of applicants from other overseas countries has increased by 8% to 65,440, the highest on record.

The overall number of people who have applied to UK higher education courses for 2018 has now reached 590,270. This is a decrease of 2% (around 11,000) compared to the same point last year, and largely reflects the 18,000 fewer UK 18 year olds in the population in 2018, and a decline in applications from older UK domiciled students, particularly for nursing courses.

The current figures for the number of applicants to higher education from across the UK are:

  • 392,990 from England (a decrease of 4% from 2017)
  • 18,970 from Northern Ireland (down 5% from 2017)
  • 46,620 from Scotland (down less than 1% from 2017) *
  • 20,220 from Wales (down 3% from 2017)

There are now 43,700 applicants to nursing courses (10% less than this time last year). Among these, 31,750 applicants are English, 14% lower than at this point in 2017.

Clare Marchant, UCAS' Chief Executive, said: ‘Today’s figures show the enduring attraction of a full-time degree for young people, and the desirability of UK higher education to students from around the world. Whilst this is undoubtedly good news, we must not overlook the continuing fall in applications from older UK students, particularly to study nursing. We would like to see the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding in England address specifically the needs of mature students who wish to develop their potential through higher education, whatever subjects or types of study they are interested in.

‘It’s also important to remember that most universities and colleges are still keen to receive applications, and students can still make applications via UCAS until 30 June, when Clearing begins. We will be publishing a comprehensive picture of the full 2018 admissions cycle in December 2018.’

There are relatively few additional applicants between the January and March deadlines (typically around 3% of applicants for each cycle apply between these two dates). January deadline applicants account for (typically) 85% of all UK domiciled applicants in a cycle, and March deadline applicants account for (typically) 88%.

For further information, please email, or contact the media desk on 01242 545 469.


Notes to editors

The undergraduate application deadlines

Although the 15 January deadline is the equal consideration deadline for most undergraduate courses, there is a 24 March deadline for some art and design courses. Students can continue to make applications up until 30 June – any received after this date go into Clearing.


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).

About UCAS

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is a charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education. We manage applications from around 700,000 people each year for full-time undergraduate courses, at over 370 providers across the UK.

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