Proportion of pupils applying to uni hits new high

The percentage of 18-year-olds in England applying to university has set a new record, according to Ucas figures

Will Hazell

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The proportion of 18-year-olds in England applying to university has hit another record high, new figures from Ucas reveal. 

An analysis of applications for full-time undergraduate courses starting in September 2019 at UK universities shows that in England a record 38.8 per cent of the 18-year-old population have applied. 

This represents a 1.4 percentage-point increase on the application rate at this time in 2018.

The application rate in England has risen every year since 2012, with this year having the biggest percentage-point increase since 2014. Ucas said the new figure showed "a growing demand for higher education".

It comes alongside a 1.8 per cent fall in the total number of 18-year-olds in England

Profile: Ucas chief executive Clare Marchant

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In Northern Ireland, 46.8 per cent of 18-year-olds have applied (down 0.7 percentage points); in Scotland, the 18-year-old application rate remains at 32.5 per cent; and in Wales, the application rate is 32.2 per cent (up 0.2 percentage points).

Record university applications

Looking at applications across the English regions, London continues to have the highest 18-year-old application rate by a distance (49.9 per cent), and the North East the lowest (32.9 per cent).

With the London rate increasing by 2.4 percentage points this year, 18-year-olds in London are now 36 per cent more likely than 18-year-olds in the rest of England to have applied to higher education (up from 33 per cent more likely last year).

Although the capital is pulling away from other regions, 2019 marks the first year since 2016 that application rates have increased in every English region.

Across all countries and age groups, 561,420 people applied to higher education through Ucas by the January deadline – an increase of 0.4 per cent from this point in 2018 and the first rise in three years.

The number of UK applicants are down by 0.7 per cent. But applicants from abroad have increased to their highest levels on record for both EU and non-EU countries.

EU applicants increased by 0.9 per cent to 43,890, and non-EU applicants increased by 9.0 per cent to 63,695.

Clare Marchant, the chief executive of Ucas, said: ‘Demand from UK 18-years-old students remains strong, despite the falling numbers of this age group in the population.

"The unexpected rise in the application rate from English 18-year-olds, against the population trend, signals that they still recognise the challenge and rewards of full-time undergraduate study."


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Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Will Hazell is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @whazell

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