Analysis by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service also shows that from 2010 to 2013, 22 per cent fewer 18 year olds applied to architecture courses and there was a 16.7 per cent fall in demand for European language and literature programmes.
Although previously released figures have shown a 1.9 per cent increase in applications to study Chinese this year, the overall drop in interest in non-European languages has come amid fears that British graduates are not equipped to deal with rapidly growing economies in Asia.
In June the British Council launched “Generation UK”, a campaign that aims for at least 15,000 UK students to study or gain work experience in China by 2016, and warned of business’s worries that UK students were not gaining international skills.
Ucas’ report, Demand for full-time undergraduate higher education, released today, reveals that over the same period application rates to physical science subjects were up almost 15 per cent, and there were rises for engineering (8.6 per cent) and subjects allied to medicine (7.6 per cent).
The analysis also finds that applications to universities with high entry tariffs are no longer so dominated by young people from advantaged areas.
It compares the application rates from areas with high levels of participation in higher education to those areas with the lowest levels.
In 2004, a young person from an advantaged area was six times more likely to apply to a high tariff institution than one from a disadvantaged neighbourhood.
By 2013, however, the ratio had narrowed to 4.3. The overall ratio between the two groups, across all institutions, shrank from 4.3 to 2.7.
The report also documents a dramatic turnaround in the application rates of black 18 year olds.
In 2004, 20 per cent of black 18 year olds applied to university, the lowest of any ethnic group, but by 2013, this had risen to 34 per cent.
Since 2009, white 18 year olds have had the lowest application rate, which stood at 29 per cent in 2013.