University applications hit record numbers

New figures from Ucas reveal that record numbers of 18-year-olds in England have applied for a place at university.

In total, 40 per cent of school leavers, some 236,350 teenagers, had applied to study at university by the 2019 deadline of 30 June - 3,970 more than in 2018. This is despite the fact that the number of 18-year-olds in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland applying for degree places has fallen.

Across the UK as a whole, 275,520 young people have applied to university this year - up from 272,910 at the same point in 2018. Despite Brexit uncertainty, the number of applicants, across all age groups, from the EU has risen from 50,120 in 2018 to 50,660 this year. The Ucas figures also highlight a record number of applicants from outside the EU applying to UK universities - 81,340 students have applied to study in the UK, an increase of eight per cent.

Clare Marchant, UCAS' chief executive, said: “The global appeal of UK higher education has never been clearer, with record, demographic beating application rates in England and Wales, and the steep rise in international applications, especially from China. Today’s analysis shows how attractive undergraduate study continues to be for young people, although university isn’t the only route on offer. Our survey insight shows that around a quarter of students are interested in apprenticeships as an alternative option.

“With Clearing now open, there’s plenty of choice for everyone at the end of the year. The post-qualification application route is available as a plan A for many, with over 17,500 using it to apply with results in hand last year. There are opportunities for a new direction on over 30,000 courses at, for anyone who’s already applied and now wants to change their mind, as we’ve streamlined the process for those reconsidering their original choices.”

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