Managers at Surrey University had forecast a rise in the number of applications this year, but even they were surprised to witness a scramble for places that has left them with a 40 per cent increase.
That surge, which represents an additional 3,140 prospective Surrey students hoping to start a full-time degree in September, has put the university's paltry 0.77 per cent rise in applications last year in the shade. There had been a total of 11,158 application by January 15 this year, compared with 8,018 at the same point last year.
The university said that to put the additional applications in context, its total first-year intake was 2,033 last year. Total undergraduate numbers are currently 7,109.
The number of applications has increased across the board: up by 48 per cent in physics; 43 per cent in maths; 36 per cent in mechanical engineering; 77 per cent in chemical processes and energy engineering; 70 per cent in law; 150 per cent in media studies; and per cent in dance.
Chris Snowdon, Surrey's vice-chancellor, could only speculate on the reason for the leap in popularity. He surmised that perhaps Surrey's graduate employment track record of 80 per cent had helped it to capitalise on a more job-focused cohort of applicants.
"By talking to applicants, we have found they see a degree course as an investment in the future and are thinking more carefully about where they go and the subjects they choose," he said.
Luckily, as Surrey opened a new student village last September, it will not have to turn away any promising applicants.