Some 38,720 home students applied to the courses, which have an early deadline of 15 October, in the 2015 undergraduate cycle – 2,020 fewer than in 2014, admissions body Ucas says.
In Ucas’s first statistical release of the 2015 cycle on 23 October, the overall number of applicants to these courses, including European Union and international students, is down by 3 per cent to 56,360.
Mary Curnock Cook, Ucas chief executive, said the figures show a “small but real decline in demand for these specialised courses, which are typically chosen by around one in 12 UK applicants”.
“We will have a fuller picture of demand for this cycle following the main January deadline,” she added.
The number of applicants from England and Wales is down by 5 per cent, there is a 9 per cent fall in applicants from Scotland and numbers are virtually unchanged in Northern Ireland.
That is partially offset by small rises in undergraduate applicants from the EU (up by 2 per cent, an extra 110 applicants) and from the outside the EU (up 1 per cent, an extra 80 applicants).
The number of applicants reapplying to early-deadline courses is down more sharply in general, with those from England-based students falling by 6 per cent to 4,670.
The main Ucas deadline for all courses is 15 January, with full applicant statistics due to be announced at the end of that month.