The number of UK 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds applying to the most selective universities and courses has risen by 8% this year, according to the latest Ucas figures.
The statistical release, based on Ucas 2022 cycle applicant figures, follows the 15 October equal consideration deadline for applications to the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, or for most medicine, dentistry, or veterinary courses at any university.
This year, 3,030 of the most disadvantaged students (from POLAR4 quintile 1) have applied to Oxbridge or for medicine/dentistry/veterinary degrees – this is up 8% from 2,800 last year.
“It is heartening to see that this cohort of students – some of the hardest hit by the Covid pandemic who didn’t get to sit their GCSEs and National 5s, and have had almost two years of disruption to their studies – are being ambitious with their university and college applications,” said Ucas chief executive Clare Marchant.
“It is particularly pleasing to see a narrowing of the disadvantage gap with 8% more students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds aiming high and applying to the most competitive courses.
“We know that increased demand and the continued rise in the number of 18 year olds in the UK population will put a squeeze on available places, particularly those at the most competitive institutions and on the most competitive courses.
It is heartening to see that this cohort of students are being ambitious with their university and college applications – Clare Marchant, Ucas
“Confidence in higher education in the UK remains strong, so I would encourage students to continue to be aspirational, but realistic, and ensure that they have a back up plan so they can remain open to all the opportunities available to them. We know that many applicants, including those applying to the most selective universities and courses, are considering a higher or degree apprenticeship as well as a traditional undergraduate degree as part of the range of options available to them.
“At Ucas, we are ready to support all students with their next steps by providing them with all the information, advice and guidance they need to help them make an informed decision for their future.”
Today’s statistics also reveal that:
- Overall applications by the 15 October deadline, across all ages and domiciles, are up 1% on last year – with 77,810 students submitting applications to Oxbridge or for medicine/dentistry/veterinary degrees.
- Among them, the number of UK 18-year-olds is up by 3% – this reflects the 3% increase in total UK 18-year-olds in the population in 2021.
- Applications from the least disadvantaged UK 18-year-olds (from POLAR4 quintile 5) has also risen slightly – by 1%.
- Medicine applications have gone up by 4% since last year figure – and there has been a 28% increase in reapplicants for medicine.
- International applicants to Oxbridge or for medicine/dentistry/veterinary degrees have fallen – total international applicants are down 4%, and EU applicants are down 16%.
- There has, however, been a 15% increase in applicants from from Ireland, and a 5% increase in those from China.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the cap on medical and dentistry places was lifted for the 2021/22 intake to accommodate deferrals and a 20% rise in applications. However, higher and further education minister Michelle Donelan and health minister Edward Argar confirmed to universities on 15 October, the Ucas deadline for medical and dentistry applications, that this arrangement would not continue into 2022/23.
The Russell Group said it was “disappointed” at the decision, arguing that “the government could support its long-term ambition to increase the number of doctors in the NHS by expanding and properly funding the number of training places available”.
I am grateful to everyone across the sector who has helped make this year’s application cycle run smoothly – Michelle Donelan
In response to today’s Ucas figures, Michelle Donelan said:
“This government is focused on levelling up opportunity so that every young person has the chance to succeed which is why I am so proud that on top of record number of disadvantaged students going to university this year, more young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are setting their sights on top universities and most competitive courses for next year.
“I am grateful to everyone across the sector who has helped make this year’s application cycle run smoothly, and to every student who has taken that vital next step on their journey through education.
“Through our reforms to post-16 education, we are determined to ensure more young people can gain the skills they need to thrive, whatever their chosen path and background. We have already tasked the Office for Students with pushing the most selective institutions to make faster progress on widening participation and will continue to look at how we can improve access to universities in the future.”
Photo by Prostooleh/Freepik.com
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