The proportion of sixth formers in the UK applying to enter higher education is higher than ever, figures from the university admissions body Ucas show.
A total of 37.8 per cent of 18-year-olds in England submitted applications before the end of March, which is 0.3 per cent more than this time last year.
A total of 47.6 per cent of their counterparts in Northern Ireland have applied (0 per cent change from 2017) while the figure for Scotland is 32.6 per cent (0.2 per cent down from 2017) and in Wales, it’s 32.4 per cent (0.3 per cent up from 2017).
Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas, said: “Today’s figures show the enduring attraction of a full-time degree for young people, and the desirability of UK higher education to students from around the world.
‘It’s also important to remember that most universities and colleges are still keen to receive applications, and students can still make applications via Ucas until 30 June, when Clearing begins."
The number of applicants from the EU has also risen, by 2 per cent from last year (to 46,040), while the number of applicants from other overseas countries has increased by 8 per cent to 65,440, which is also the highest on record.
But Ms Marchant said there had been a continuing fall in applications from older UK students, particularly to study nursing. She said: “We would like to see the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding in England address specifically the needs of mature students who wish to develop their potential through higher education, whatever subjects or types of study they are interested in.”
Ucas figures show there are currently 230,320 English 18 year old applicants to higher education, and, although this is 3,000 (2 per cent) less than at this point last year the drop in actual numbers reflects a 2.3 per cent fall in the overall number of 18-year-olds in the population.
Ucas says it will be publishing a comprehensive picture of the full 2018 admissions cycle in December.