A decline in the number of UK-domiciled students applying for early-deadline university courses has been offset by a significant increase in applications from the European Union.
Ucas said that 38,330 home students had submitted their applications by the 15 October deadline, which covers most medicine, dentistry and veterinary courses, as well as undergraduate programmes at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. This was down 390 (1 per cent) on the same point last year.
But, in a continuation of a trend that has been evident for a number of cycles, the number of EU applications increased by 520 (8.2 per cent) year-on-year, to 6,860.
This meant that the total number of applications, also including 11,440 non-EU students, was 56,630, up 0.5 per cent on last year.
An Oxford spokeswoman said that nearly 19,500 applications had been received by 15 October, compared with approximately 18,300 last year, suggesting an increase of about 6 per cent. The institution usually makes about 3,200 undergraduate offers annually.
A Cambridge spokesman said that the university had recorded a 1.5 per cent increase in applications and, given that the institution’s total last October was 16,163, this suggests that approximately 16,400 applications were received this year. The institution makes about 3,400 offers every year.
With the number of 18-year-old applicants increasing by 0.9 per cent, the decline in home applications was driven by a significant drop in the number of students reapplying after not getting into the course they wanted in the 2015 cycle.
Overall, the number of students reapplying was 5,850, down 630 (9.7 per cent) on last year. Some 3,050 of these students were applying for medicine courses, but this figure was 660 (17.8 per cent) down year-on-year.
The total number of students applying for medicine courses was 20,100, down 290 (1.4 per cent), but the number of UK applicants was down 400 (2.6 per cent).
Mary Curnock Cook, Ucas’ chief executive, said that the drop in the number of students reapplying reflected an increase in the acceptance rates for young students applying for these courses in 2015.
“October deadline courses are attracting more overseas applicants each year with a notable increase this year in demand from EU applicants,” Ms Curnock Cook said. “Fewer than 10 per cent of applicants apply by this deadline and we need to wait until the main January deadline before the fuller picture of demand for higher education in 2016 emerges.”
Students have been able to submit applications for all 2016 courses from early September, but most apply closer to the 15 January deadline.