Latest Ucas figures ‘welcome news’ for universities

Fewer students have deferred their place at university than at this stage last year, according to latest Ucas figures

Enrolment figures released today by Ucas will be “welcome news for universities”, the organisation’s chief executive has said, as it was revealed that deferral rates are lower than at this point last year.

Applicants had until Thursday 18 June to choose if they wanted to accept an offer to study at university. Latest figures suggest that despite the Covid pandemic students have not been put off pursuing higher education this September.

According to Ucas, the number of applicants that hold a firm offer for an immediate start in September has risen by 1% compared to this point in last year’s admission cycle – 500,340 applicants have confirmed an offer to start their course in September, up from 494,530 at this point last year.

The number of applicants choosing to defer their place has fallen by 1% this year.

Deferral rates could climb in the coming months, but for now the anticipated drop in student figures has not materialised.

“Today’s numbers will be welcome news for universities and colleges and show their announcements on the blend of online and face-to-face learning most are planning to deliver have been building confidence ahead of the start of term,” said Ucas chief executive Clare Marchant.

“We are publishing these headline offer-acceptance statistics for the first time, to provide the clearest possible picture of students’ behaviour at this moment in the application cycle.”

We are publishing these headline offer-acceptance statistics for the first time, to provide the clearest possible picture of students’ behaviour at this moment in the application cycle
Clare Marchant, Ucas

The number of UK-domiciled and non-EU international students that have accepted a firm offer has risen by 1% and 12% respectively compared to last year, but the number of EU students that have confirmed an offer is  6% lower than 2019. These figures collectively represent an extra 5,810 Ucas applicants.

Fewer UK and EU students have opted to defer their place this year than last year, with figures for those groups falling by 2% and 9% respectively, but the number of non-EU international applicants that have deferred so far has risen by 21% compared to last year. Ucas stressed that the 21% increase only represents an extra 200 candidates opting for a later start date.

Ucas also stressed that not only have more UK 18-year olds accepted an offer for an immediate start than last year, but that that figure should be “seen alongside fewer 18-year-old applicants, and fewer young people in the population overall”.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive for Universities UK, described the figures from Ucas as “very positive”.

Dr Tim Bradshaw, chief executive for the Russell Group, said the figures show “students remain confident” about higher education.

“While it remains an uncertain time for people making decisions about university this autumn and restrictions on international travel are likely to continue, our members are working hard to provide the best possible experience for every student. Quality and safety are the focus, with our universities taking a blended approach to learning and looking at ways to ensure small group learning and lab work on campus can be delivered effectively and safely,” Dr Bradshaw added.


Read more: EU students to pay higher tuition fees next year

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