Today UCAS publishes statistics on applicants for full-time undergraduate higher education in the 2013 application cycle. They include all applications considered 'on time' for the 15 January deadline and give the first reliable indication of demand for higher education in the UK this year.
These figures show a 3.5% headline increase in the number of applicants to institutions across the UK compared to the same point last year.
Application rates, which take population changes into account, show that the proportion of English 18 year olds applying in 2013 has increased by one percentage point. The application rates of 18 year olds across the UK are at, or near, their highest recorded levels.
Application rates from disadvantaged 18 year olds are also at, or close to, record levels. International applications are up, as are those from mature groups.
Mary Curnock Cook, Chief Executive of UCAS said: "This is an encouraging report, with no double-dip for applications and continuing improvements for disadvantaged groups. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are 80% more likely to apply than a decade ago.
"However, there remains a stubborn gap between application rates for young men and young women. This is most pronounced for disadvantaged groups where young women are 50% more likely to apply than young men.
"The 2% rise in the number of 18 year old applicants, and the 10.5% increase in 19 year olds, is against a headwind of demographic change that has left the 18 year old group some 60,000 smaller than in 2009.
"The significant increase in 19 year olds applying may be indicating that some young people delayed their decisions about higher education after leaving school last year."
Although 15 January is the 'equal consideration' deadline, UCAS will still send applications to universities and colleges up until 30 June, with those received later going into Clearing. In recent cycles around 85 per cent of UK applicants had applied by this deadline. This proportion is higher for 18 year old UK applicants (97 per cent) and lower for international applicants (around 60 per cent).
The publications covering the January deadline are:
An analysis of application rates by country, age, sex and background that takes into account populations
Summary of applicants by domicile and whether a first time applicant, or re-applier, covering 2006 to 2013 cycles
Comparison of 2013 and 2012 cycle applications and applicants providing summary statistics on sex, age, domicile, country of institution and subject