Rise in number of students planning to start university this autumn

Most undergraduate applicants have now chosen which of their university or college offers to accept, as the deadline for the majority of them was Thursday 18 June.
Posted Thu 25 June 2020 - 00:01

There are currently more applicants holding a firm offer to start a course this autumn than at the equivalent point last year, and fewer people accepting an offer for a deferred place.

Table 1a: All applicants currently holding a conditional firm or unconditional firm offer for an immediate start in September

Applicant domicile

2019 cycle

2020 cycle

Total change

Proportional change

UK

408,220

410,420

+2,200

+1%

EU

36,700

34,530

-2,160

-6%

Outside EU

49,610

55,380

+5,770

+12%

Total

494,530

500,340

5,810

+1%

Table 1a shows that, overall, more undergraduate applicants have accepted an offer to immediately start studying at university or college compared to last year. The decline in EU applicants holding an offer should be seen alongside the fall in EU applicants overall, as of the 15 January application deadline.

Table 1b: All applicants currently holding a conditional firm or unconditional firm offer with a deferred start date

Applicant domicile

2019 cycle

2020 cycle

Total change

Proportional change

UK

19,200

18,910

-290

-2%

EU

700

640

-70

-9%

Outside EU

940

1,140

200

+21%

Total

20,840

20,690

-160

-1%

Table 1b shows that, overall, there are fewer applicants choosing to accept an offer with a deferred start date, meaning there are fewer currently opting to take a year out. The increase in applicants from outside the EU choosing a deferred start should also be seen alongside the 15% overall rise in non-EU applicants.

Table 2a: UK 18 year olds holding a conditional firm or unconditional firm offer for an immediate start in September

Applicant domicile

2019 cycle

2020 cycle

Total change

Proportional change

England

207,000

213,430

+6,420

+3%

N. Ireland

9,160

9,450

+290

+3%

Scotland

15,030

14,820

-220

-1%

Wales

9,850

9,740

-110

-1%

Total

241,050

247,430

+6,380

+3%

Table 2a shows that, overall, more UK 18 year olds have accepted an offer for an immediate start compared to last year. Fewer applicants from Scotland and Wales should also been seen alongside fewer 18 year old applicants, and fewer young people in the population overall.

Table 2b: UK 18 year olds holding a conditional firm or unconditional firm offer with a deferred start date

Applicant domicile

2019 cycle

2020 cycle

Total Change

Proportional change

England

13,020

12,430

-590

-5%

N. Ireland

280

340

70

+24%

Scotland

520

450

-70

-14%

Wales

420

420

0

0%

Total

14,230

13,640

-600

-4%

Table 2b shows that fewer young people (typically applying in their final year of school) in the UK have accepted an offer for a deferred start compared to last year. Small fluctuations in applicant numbers for Northern Ireland and Scotland have resulted in larger proportional changes compared to England and Wales.

Table 3a: UK 18 year olds holding a conditional firm or unconditional firm offer for an immediate start in September by POLAR4 quintile

POLAR4 quintile

2019 cycle

2020 cycle

Total change

Proportional change

1

26,320

27,430

+1,110

+4%

2

35,630

36,870

+1,240

+3%

3

44,840

45,310

+460

+1%

4

54,910

55,940

+1,040

+2%

5

77,580

79,530

+1,960

+3%

Table 3a shows increases in students from all POLAR4 quintile groups (students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are in quintile 1, with students from the most advantaged backgrounds in quintile 5) accepting offers for an immediate start. The higher proportional change in quintile 1 applicants, compared to quintile 5, is reflective of the gap between the groups’ applicant numbers narrowing as seen at the 15 January deadline.

Table 3b: UK 18 year olds holding a conditional firm or unconditional firm offer with a deferred start date by POLAR4 quintile

POLAR4 quintile

2019 cycle

2020 cycle

Total change

Proportional change

1

1,090

1,150

+60

+6%

2

1,670

1,550

-110

-7%

3

2,190

2,140

-50

-2%

4

3,230

3,070

-160

-5%

5

5,900

5,590

-310

-5%

Table 3b shows that applicants from the most disadvantaged areas are the only group to see an increase in holding a deferred offer – however, there is only a difference of 60 applicants.

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive, said: ‘Students have made their decisions and are ready to take up the life-changing opportunities that higher education can bring.

‘Today’s numbers will also be welcome news for universities and colleges, and show their announcements on the blend of online and face-to-face learning most are planning to deliver have been building confidence ahead of the start of term.

‘We are publishing these headline offer-acceptance statistics for the first time, to provide the clearest possible picture of students’ behaviour at this moment in the application cycle.’

Typically, applicants holding a conditional offer will have their place confirmed following their qualification results. SQA results day is on Tuesday 4 August, and A level and BTEC results day follows on Thursday 13 August. Other qualification results will also be confirmed throughout July and August.

Ends


UCAS Press Office

01242 545 469

[email protected]

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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 370 universities and colleges across the UK.

Statistics are reported as of 00:05 on Monday 22 June. Each individual statistic is rounded to the nearest ten to avoid potential disclosure of individuals. Records of Prior Acceptance (RPAs) and withdrawn applicants are excluded from the analysis at this stage.

A firm choice is where a student accepts an offer as their first choice. The university or college is agreeing to accept the student if they meet the stated conditions (if there are any) of the offer. Conditions are typically related to pending academic achievements.

There is no UCAS deadline to defer an application. Applicants can request to defer at any point in the application cycle. The decision to accept an applicant’s deferral request is made by individual universities/colleges. 

Applicants deferring their application in the 2019 cycle would typically start their undergraduate course in September 2020, while deferred applicants in the 2020 cycle would typically start in September 2021.

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