Students from disadvantaged backgrounds more likely than ever to be accepted into university on results day

Students are receiving their qualification results this morning and signing in to UCAS Track. Record numbers of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have a confirmed place on an undergraduate course, more applicants have been accepted onto their first choice of course than last year, and overall, more applicants have a place compared to results day 2019.
Posted Thu 13 August 2020 - 08:00

For those without a place, or not holding an offer but still keen to start an undergraduate course, UCAS’ new personalised Clearing Plus service is helping match them to the right course.

A record 20,280 18 year olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds (POLAR4 quintile 1) in England have been accepted into university – up 7.3% on last year’s results day. This means 18.8% of all young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are due to start an undergraduate degree – a new high for results day, which continues to close the gap to students from the most advantaged areas.

In Wales, 17.4% from the most disadvantaged backgrounds (1,310 students) have been accepted, and in Northern Ireland the proportion is 18.3% (790 students) – these are also both new records.

Across the UK, 30.2% (210,260 students) of all 18 year olds have been accepted through UCAS – another high for results day despite there being 1.5% fewer 18 year olds in the UK population than last year. The equivalent figure for 2019 was 28.2%. For 18 year olds from England, this figure is 30.4%, for Wales it is 27.3%, and for Northern Ireland, it is 36.0%.

358,860 people (of all ages) from across the UK have been accepted so far this year – a 2.9% increase compared to results day 2019. 316,730 of these have been accepted onto their first (firm) choice of course – up 2.7% on this point in 2019.

View the daily Clearing dashboard

4% (14,370) of placed UK students are currently planning to defer starting their course, which is the same proportion as at this point last year.

34,310 international students from outside the EU have been accepted (up 2%), while acceptances from students within the EU have fallen by 15.2%, to 22,430. There are currently more international applicants holding an offer, and their places will be confirmed once their qualification results are provided to universities.

The number of students accepted onto nursing courses has increased by 13.2%, to 24,750.

So far, a total of 415,600 students have a confirmed place on an undergraduate course in the UK. This is a 1.6% increase on results day last year, and follows three years of decreases.

All of today’s statistics can be found in our interactive dashboard, allowing users to visualise and tailor the reporting to their own specification. After today, updates will be published each working day at 11:00, until Friday 28 August.

Clearing opened on 6 July, and 7,600 people have already used it to secure their place, including 3,860 who applied directly into Clearing.

In total in 2019, a record 73,320 people were placed through Clearing, with 19,640 applying for a course for the first time directly into Clearing.

Clare Marchant, UCAS Chief Executive, said: ‘In a year unlike any other, students should be proud of their achievements. It’s especially encouraging to see record numbers of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with a confirmed place at university, and an increase in applicants accepted onto their first choice.

‘We all rightly hold nurses and key workers in such high esteem, and they’ve clearly inspired a new generation to join them, with the number of students accepted onto nursing courses rising by 13.2%, to 24,750.

‘Universities and colleges have plans to welcome students onto their courses as safely as possible, which have been received well, as we’re seeing a similar proportion of placed applicants currently planning to defer as last year.

‘We’re ready to support students, and Clearing Plus will match those looking for a place to available courses they might be interested in. The UCAS website has information and advice on all the options open to young people, and we’re ready to help them over the phone and on social media.’


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.

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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