Today UCAS publishes analysis of full-time undergraduate applications considered 'on time' for the 15 January deadline - the first reliable indicator of demand for UK higher education this cycle.
Posted Wed 3 February 2016 - 15:23

So far, 593,720 people have applied to UK higher education courses in 2016, an increase of 0.2% compared to the same point last year.

UK applicant numbers (495,940) have decreased slightly (-0.3%), due to fewer English applicants (-1%) mostly aged between 20 and 34. The number of applicants from Northern Ireland has risen by 2%, and by 1% from Scotland and from Wales.

EU applicants (excluding UK) increased by 6% compared to the previous cycle, to 45,220.

There is a 2.2% decline in the UK 18 year old population this year, and while applicant numbers from this age group have increased (+1%), growth is smaller than in recent cycles. There is a 5% decrease in applications from those aged 20-24.

Application rates for UK 18 year olds – which take into account annual population changes – are at record levels, rising for England, Scotland and Wales and unchanged for Northern Ireland.

Overall, young people from the least advantaged areas of the UK are more likely to apply to higher education than ever before (+5% in England, +2% in Scotland, +8% in Wales, but -4% in Northern Ireland). As last year, the most advantaged remain 2.4 times more likely to apply.

The difference between application rates from men and women in 2016 is the highest on record. In England, young women are 36% more likely to apply to university and when both sexes are from disadvantaged backgrounds young women are 58% more likely to apply.

In around half of UK parliamentary constituencies between 30-40% of young people now apply to higher education.

Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS Chief Executive said: “Our report shows further growth in demand for higher education but the declining 18 year old population and a decrease in older applicants means the actual number of UK applicants available for universities to recruit remains flat.”


Notes to Editors

UCAS tables published today (4 February 2016) include applicant numbers by age, sex, country of domicile, country of institution applied to, and institution type (higher, medium and lower Tariff), as well as the number of applications (choices) by subject group.

Percentage changes of less than 0.5% are rounded to 0% in the tables.

A separate analytical report on UK application rates looks at age, sex, background (POLAR3 and SIMD), UK country of domicile, region, parliamentary constituency, and qualifications held.

While the majority of students apply by the 15 January ‘on time’ deadline, UCAS will send applications to universities and colleges for consideration up until 30 June. Applications received after that date go into Clearing.

January deadline applicants account for (typically) 85% of all UK domiciled applicants in a cycle and almost all (typically 97%) of 18 year old UK applicants.


In Scotland there is a substantial section of higher education that is not included in UCAS' figures. This is mostly full-time HE provided in further education colleges which represents around one third of young full-time undergraduate study in Scotland, and this proportion varies by geography and background within Scotland. Accordingly, figures on applications and application rates in Scotland reflect only that part of full-time undergraduate study that uses UCAS.

In the previous cycle (2015) there were also changes to the scope of the data recorded in UCAS scheme for Scotland (including teacher training courses in Scotland moving from the dedicated UCAS Teacher Training Scheme into the main UCAS 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.

UCAS Press Office contacts:

01242 545469

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