According to statistics for the 2014 cycle released on 11 July, a total of 659,030 people submitted applications to study for a full-time undergraduate course by 30 June – the final cut-off point for Ucas’ main applications route.
Any applications submitted after 30 June are considered late and will be directed to clearing.
In total, there were an extra 23,120 applications in 2014 compared with the same point last year – which meant the university applications total was the second highest year on record at this point in the cycle.
Of the extra applications, 15,130 were from students based in England, where an extra 30,000 student places have been made available for 2014-15.
There were an extra 2,090 applications from students from the European Union (excluding UK students), while an extra 4,190 people applied through Ucas from non-EU countries.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said it was “encouraging to see the numbers applying to university increasing again this year”.
She said it demonstrated the “widespread recognition of the importance of a university degree and the positive impact it has on people’s lives and the economy”.
Ms Dandridge also welcomed the fact that nearly 9,000 more mature students applied compared with last year and noted that subjects such as engineering and computing were increasingly popular.
“Those subjects play a vital role in meeting the skills needs of UK employers in globally competitive industries,” she said, although she said it was a concern that the number of women applying to study these courses was “disproportionally low”.
Les Ebdon, director of fair access to higher education, also welcomed the figures saying they were “excellent news” and adding there had been a “steady and sustained increase in the number and rate of students from groups under-represented in higher education applying to university in recent years”.