University application rates from 18-year-olds in England have reached a record high, new figures from Ucas show.
Statistics published by the university admissions body today reveal that the application rate among English 18-year-olds by the Ucas January deadline increased by 0.4 percentage points to 37.4 per cent for the 2018 admissions cycle.
Application rates for students in Wales also increased by 0.3 percentage points to 32 per cent, while rates in Northern Ireland were stable at 47.5 per cent. In Scotland, the rate fell slightly. However, Ucas said its figures did not provide the full picture because it only processes two-thirds of admissions in Scotland.
Across the UK as a whole, Ucas said that 18-year-olds are more likely than ever before to apply to higher education – 1 per cent more likely than in 2017.
But the overall number of applicants to higher education from the UK has actually fallen by 12,400 to 457,070 – a 2.6 per cent decline. UCAS said this was a reflection of demographic trends, with the size of the country's 18-year-old population contracting by 2.5 per cent compared to last year.
The figures also show that application rates for UK 18-year-olds living in disadvantaged areas increased to the highest levels recorded, with 22.3 per cent of students from these areas applying to university – a 0.8 per cent increase on 2017.
Clare Marchant, Ucas' chief executive, said that the figures showed that UK higher education "continues to be a highly popular choice for 18-year-olds".
She added: "It’s also important to remember that most universities and colleges are still open for applications – and students can still make application choices via Ucas until 30 June.
"We will be publishing a comprehensive picture of the full 2018 admissions cycle in December 2018."