Four in ten young people in England have applied to university – representing a new record, it was revealed today.
Figures from university admissions body Ucas show that 39.5 per cent of all 18-year-olds in England have submitted an application, up from 38.1 per cent at the same point last year.
The number of young people from the UK applying has increased by 1 per cent, despite a 1.9 per cent fall in the overall 18-year-old population of the UK.
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In total, 275,520 young people have applied across the UK – up from 272,920 at this point in 2018.
Application rates among 18-year-olds were slightly down in Northern Ireland (down 0.7 percentage points to 46.9 per cent) and Scotland (down 01 percentage points to 32.7 per cent), but up in Wales (up 0.2 percentage points to 32.9 per cent, setting a joint record with 2016).
In England, the number of young people applying from the most deprived areas has increased 6 per cent to 38,770, while applications from the least deprived areas have fallen.
Universities minister Chris Skidmore said: “It is fantastic to see there are record rates of 18-year-olds in England, including an increase from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, applying to university.”
He added: “These figures show we are making good progress in our ambition to open up world-leading higher education to anyone who has the potential to benefit from it and I’m confident that we can go even further.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We are delighted that the proportion of 18-year-olds in England applying for university places has increased, and in particular that the number from the most deprived areas has risen.
“Schools and colleges deserve a great deal of credit for their work in encouraging students who often face the greatest challenges to believe in themselves and in supporting them to achieve their goals. But education is seriously underfunded, and we need to be mindful that there is still a long way to go to close the gap between rich and poor in our country.
“The government must invest more in education and in social and economic policies which restore hope to deprived communities.”