Ucas has released its annual analysis of applications to higher education.
As of the 15 January deadline for Ucas applications, 568,330 people had applied to start an undergraduate course at a UK university or college in 2020 – this is up 1.2% from the same time last year.
The statistics also found that a record 39.5% of all UK 18 year olds have applied – an increase of 1.3% on last year. This means an extra 4,615 young people applied, despite the numbers of 18-year-olds in the total population having been predicted to hit an all-time low in 2020.
Students are making the most of this year’s unprecedented opportunity to apply to university – Clare Marchant
There have been rises in application rates across all UK regions. London has seen a new high, with more than half of all 18-year-olds in the capital applying to university by the 15 January deadline. This makes 18-year-olds in London 1.54 times more likely to apply to higher education than those in the North East, which has the lowest application rate.
According to the Ucas statistics, the gap between the most advantaged and disadvantaged students applying has shrunk to a record low (using the Participation of Local Areas, or POLAR4, measure). Almost a quarter, 24.6%, of young people from the most disadvantaged areas have applied – up from 23.3% in 2019. This compares to 55% (53.4% in 2019) from the most advantaged areas, meaning the most advantaged students are now 2.24 times more likely to apply – down from 2.3 times last year.
“Students are making the most of this year’s unprecedented opportunity to apply to university, as more applicants are expected to receive offers, the equality gap continues to narrow, and the UK’s 18 year old population is expected to grow again in 2021,” said Clare Marchant, Ucas’s chief executive.
Mature and overseas students
The number of UK applicants aged between 30-34 has increased for the first time in five years. Ucas says this can mainly be attributed to a rise in mature applicants for nursing courses.
Applications from outside the EU have increased by 14.7% to a record 73,080 applicants. This has been driven by a 33.8% increase in applicants from China, and a 32.9% increase from India. There has been a 2% decrease in total applicants from the EU – 860 fewer overall.