Students are being aspirational with their university choices for next autumn, with more applying for some of the most competitive courses.
Posted Thu 29 October 2020 - 00:01

A total of 76,940 people – up 12% on last year – have applied to start an undergraduate course with an early application deadline of 15 October 2020. This was the deadline for anyone wanting to start a course in autumn 2021 at either the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge, or for most medicine, dentistry, or veterinary courses at any other university. The equal consideration deadline for all other courses, universities, and colleges is 15 January 2021.

Applicant numbers for October deadline courses have increased from every country of the UK, to reach a collective total of 54,220 – up 14% on 2020. There has been an increase in applications within each age group.

A record 2,800 18 year olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds (POLAR4 quintile 1) in the UK have applied. This is an increase of 19%, compared to a rise of 8% (to reach 17,410) in applicants from the most advantaged backgrounds.

International applicants from outside the EU have increased by 20% to 17,510, while EU applicants have fallen to 5,220, from 6,480 last year.

Applicants for medicine courses specifically have increased to 28,690, up almost 5,000 (4,970).

View the 15 October deadline dashboard

Clare Marchant, UCAS Chief Executive, said: ‘It’s great news to see students aim high and aspire to a future beyond the current limits of COVID with their choices for next year. The marked increase in students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds applying is especially welcome, particularly as universities are ready to use the contextual data available to them when considering applications.

‘The inspirational work of the NHS, particularly during 2020, will have undoubtedly encouraged students to apply for medicine courses, and it’s heartening that so many want to be part of the recovery as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.

‘The advice and guidance that teachers, universities, and colleges have provided in these challenging times has been outstanding and is reflected in today’s numbers. UCAS’ online events, live Q&As, social media engagement, and personal statement writing sessions have critically supported students as they make important decisions about their futures.

‘The full picture on this year will come once the main January application deadline passes. We’re ready to support all students with their next steps, providing the information they need to make an informed decision, whether that be an undergraduate application, an apprenticeship, or researching alternative options.’


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.

This analysis commences reporting for the 2021 UCAS Undergraduate admissions cycle.

The 15 October deadline was applicable for most medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science/medicine courses, as well as all courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

15 January 2021 is the equal consideration deadline for all other undergraduate courses. UCAS will publish these applicant figures on 4 February 2021.

A full timetable of upcoming statistical publications is available, including dates for the End of Cycle Reports and data resources from the recently concluded 2020 admissions cycle.

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