UCAS analysed 300,000 students’ personal statements this year and found all university applicants - from future accountants to fine art scholars – use a blend of career and passion-related words to promote their suitability for the subject.
Posted Tue 23 June 2015 - 09:25

Some 200 million words were entered by 18 year old UK applicants in their personal statements this year. UCAS has looked at those that used a ‘career’ word and those that used a ‘passion’ word when applying to university.

Students applying for Physics and English show similar levels of interest in career outcomes while English and Fine Art applicants express most passion, on this measure.  University hopefuls are as passionate about history as they are about geography, architecture and sport.

Aspiring economists appear least likely to talk of passion or career ambitions related to their subject. Mathematicians seem more motivated by passion than career options, while Drama and Music stand out for their high scores against both.

Medicine is the most career-oriented choice shown here, although close to half of these applicants express passion for the subject.

Overall, young people appear more likely to state passion for their chosen course than career-motivated interest.

Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS’ Chief Executive said: “Students are most likely to benefit from higher education if they have both passion and purpose in choosing their courses.  I like the surprises in this analysis which tell me that applicants are highly motivated and not just following the money.

“Anyone who needs a refresher course on why higher education matters, regardless of course choice, should join me in reading the inspiring entries that we get in our Love Learning competition.  For many students, the benefits of the university experience go far beyond anything they imagined when they wrote their personal statements.”

UCAS’ Love Learning competition, open until Friday 26 June, challenges students to inspire the next generation with an essay or video describing why their subject captivates them.

Entry details for #lovelearning which is open to all current undergraduate and postgraduate students can be found on our website

The personal statement, limited to 4,000 characters, is a central part of the UCAS application and gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their suitability and commitment to the course.


subject_bubble graph.pdf

NOTE: The words in each group are:





Job (in)



Love (of)




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