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University applications fall by 4%

The number of people applying for UK university places has fallen by more than 25,000, data from UCAS shows

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | July 13, 2017 | Students

The number of people who have applied to UK higher education courses for 2017 at the June deadline is 649,700. This is 4% (around 25,000) fewer applicants compared to this point last year; a similar, but slightly smaller reduction than was seen at the January deadline (where the change was a decrease of 5%, around 30,000). 

The number of EU students planning to study in the UK has fallen by 5%. It is the first decline since fees were last increased in England, in 2012.

There are now 529,620 UK applicants (a decrease of 4% compared to this point last year); 49,250 EU applicants (a decrease of 5%); and 70,830 applicants from other overseas countries (an increase of 2%).

There have been reductions in applicants from all countries of the UK: 437,860 from England (a decrease of 5% on 2016); 48,940 from Scotland (down 1% on 2016); 22,530 from Wales (down 5% on 2016); and 20,290 from Northern Ireland (down 4% on 2016).

The decrease in applicants is driven by falls from England, Wales and the EU, but applicants from other overseas countries are up 2% 

The year-on-year changes in applicants show differences across age ranges. There are around 321,950 18-year-old applicants, an increase of 1,510 on last year. In England, the proportion of the 18-year-old population who have applied to higher education, the ‘application rate’, has increased from 37.2% in 2016 to 37.9%, the highest level recorded.

In Wales, the application rate has fallen from 32.9% to 32.5%.

There were 315,200 applicants at the deadline aged 19 or older (a decrease of 27,180 on last year).

Overall, there are 53,010 applicants to nursing courses, representing a decrease of 19% compared to this point last year.

 “Within the figures, there are contrasting trends,” said Dr Mark Corver, UCAS Director of Analysis and Research.

“The decrease in applicants is driven by falls from England, Wales and the EU, but applicants from other overseas countries are up 2%. Within the UK, older applicants are down, but applicants from the key 18-year-old age group have increased again to 321,950, supported by a record application rate from young people in England of 37.9%. How these trends translate into students at university and colleges will become clear over the next six weeks as applicants get their results and secure their places, and new applicants apply direct to UCAS’ Clearing process.”

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