Early deadline applications to UK universities hit record high

As number of applicants from the EU flatlines, UK and rest of world drives growth

October 25, 2018
Crowded record attempt

The number of students applying for early deadline courses at UK universities has hit a record high, although interest from the European Union appears to be flatlining.

Ucas said that 65,870 people had submitted applications for programmes with a 15 October deadline – those at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and most medicine, dentistry and veterinary degrees. This represents a 7.2 per cent increase year-on-year.

UK-domiciled applicants drove the bulk of the increase, up 8.8 per cent to 45,650, while the number of applicants from outside the EU was up 5.8 per cent to 13,610.

However, the number of applicants from the EU was static, remaining at 6,610. The Westminster government did not confirm until July that EU students enrolling in English universities in 2019-20 – after the UK leaves the bloc – would pay the same tuition fees as UK students and remain eligible for financial support. Many students may have made choices about where to study prior to this date.

The Ucas data, released on 25 October, show the number of applicants for medicine courses reached a five-year high of 22,340, potentially a response to the creation of new medical school places in English universities. This was up 7.8 per cent year-on-year.

The growth among UK-domiciled applicants was even higher, up 11.8 per cent to 17,470, but this was undermined by falling numbers of EU and non-EU applicants, which were respectively down 7.8 per cent to 1,660 and down 2.7 per cent to 3,220.

Meanwhile, the gap between the number of men and women applying for early deadline courses continued to widen: the number of female applications increased by 9.5 per cent, compared with 4.5 per cent male growth. In total there were 36,280 female applicants, compared with 29,590 male applicants.

Clare Marchant, Ucas’ chief executive, said that early deadline courses “remain as much in demand and are as competitive as ever”.

However, Ms Marchant highlighted that the 15 October figures represent only about 10 per cent of this year’s expected applications. “We will have to wait until the main deadline on 15 January, and the cycle to progress further, to understand what the overall patterns of demand look like, changes in interest in specific subjects, and to see the impacts of efforts to widen participation and access across the board,” she said.

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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