Early data show that applications to UK universities, including those from the European Union, appear to be bouncing back from last year’s slump.
Ucas figures show that a record 61,440 people submitted applications to UK higher education institutions by the 15 October deadline, up 4,250 (7.4 per cent) year-on-year.
This total, which covers applicants for all courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and most medicine and veterinary degrees, includes 6,610 applicants from the EU, an increase of 370 (5.9 per cent).
At this point last year, in the aftermath of the UK’s vote for Brexit, EU applications were down 9 per cent, and the total number of applications was 4 per cent lower by the end of the cycle, including a 5 per cent drop in EU applications.
It remains to be seen whether the improvement is sustained, especially since this year’s admissions data show that, while the most selective universities continue to fare well in recruitment, institutions with the lowest entry grades are being squeezed out.
Nevertheless, sector leaders will take heart from the 7.9 per cent increase in applications to medicine courses, up to 20,730, ending the three-year trend of decline. The number of 18-year-old English-domiciled applicants for medicine courses increased by 1,080 (16.1 per cent) to 7,770, potentially reflecting the creation of 500 additional medical school places for 2018.
In addition, the number of applications from international students from outside the EU increased by 1,350 (11.7 per cent) to 12,860.
The number of applications from the UK increased by 6.4 per cent year-on-year.
Clare Marchant, the chief executive of Ucas, said: “These degree programmes and universities are always popular, and at a time of uncertainty it’s encouraging that UK higher education remains so attractive, not only to UK students but also those from EU countries, and internationally.
“However, we’ll need to wait until after the 15 January 2018 deadline to understand what the overall demand for UK higher education looks like.”