University applications rise during lockdown

A total of 514,020 people of all ages from across the UK have now applied through UCAS this year for a place on an undergraduate course – up 1.6% on this point in 2019, and reversing a fall in UK applicants from earlier this year.
Posted Thu 9 July 2020 - 00:01

Today, UCAS publishes the latest update on university and college applications made by 30 June 2020 – the final deadline to apply for up to five courses simultaneously. This analysis is being published within seven working days of the deadline.

A record 40.5% of all UK 18 year olds have applied – the first time more than four out of ten have applied by this point in the cycle. Last year’s equivalent figure was 38.9%.

This means 281,980 young people have applied, increasing from 275,520 a year ago, despite there being 1.5% fewer 18 year olds in the population than last year. 2020 is also projected to be the final year of a UK-wide decline in the overall number of 18 year olds in the total population.

View the 30 June deadline dashboard

For the first time, over a quarter (25.4%) of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds (using the POLAR4 measure) across the UK have applied to university of college by the 30 June deadline.

The number of applicants from outside the EU is currently up 10% to 89,130, while the EU applicant total is currently 2% lower than last year, at 49,650.

The overall number of applicants, of all ages from all domiciles, currently stands at 652,790, and is the highest figure in four years.

This year, there has been a 10% increase in the number of new applicants between the 15 January and 30 June application deadlines – 84,600 in 2020, compared to 76,740 in 2019. There was also a 17% increase in new applicants between 23 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 – 54,810 compared to 46,770 in the equivalent period in 2019.

Applicant numbers for nursing are up 15% year-on-year, to reach 58,550. The number of new nursing applicants between January and June was 63% higher than the same period last year (12,840 in 2020, compared to 7,880 in 2019).

Analysis published by UCAS two weeks ago also showed that more applicants have accepted an offer to start a course this autumn, with fewer students currently planning to defer than in 2019.

Clare Marchant, UCAS' Chief Executive, said: ‘At this moment, we’re seeing an encouraging picture emerge out of national lockdown, with currently more applicants than last year keen to expand their mind, stretch themselves, and seize the opportunities that higher education can offer.

‘Universities and colleges are setting out their ambitions to welcome students to their campuses this autumn, with many planning to blend high quality online learning with face-to-face teaching and support. Confidence is building for an autumn term that safely captures the essence of the academic year’s traditional start as much as possible.

‘We should celebrate seeing so many people keen to embark on a rewarding career in nursing. Inspirational stories throughout this pandemic have clearly sparked imaginations, with people from all walks of life applying, determined to help others at a time when our universities are making huge contributions to fighting coronavirus.

‘Students will continue to need support over the summer to successfully transition onto their courses, including the record number of applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our popular weekly live Q&A sessions will cover a variety of topics, with experts on hand to help guide students, complementing the information and advice available from UCAS online, through social media, and over the phone.’   

Ends


UCAS Press Office

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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 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

‘New applicants’ between the 15 January and 30 June deadlines includes anyone who submitted a new main scheme application between these dates. ‘New nursing applicants’ includes any new applicants after 15 January who applied to a nursing course as one of their five choices.

Scotland

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.

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

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