Almost 600,000 students applied to university before the UCAS deadline of January 15th this year, according to the admissions body. This is the highest number ever recorded and a 2 per cent increase in the total number of applicants (592,290) compared to the same point last year, however the increase is smaller than in recent years.
Overall, the increase for UK applicants is 1 per cent and there has been a 7 per cent increase in applicants fro the EU and a 3 per cent increase in applicants from outside the EU.
More young people from disadvantaged areas across the UK are applying to higher education than ever before. The application rate of 18 year olds from the most disadvantaged areas has increased from 12.2 per cent in 2006 to 21 per cent in 2015 making these 18 year olds 72 per cent more likely to apply to higher education than nine years ago.
There is a similar pattern across the UK, in all four countries applications are at record levels for applicants from disadvantaged areas; 25.4 per cent in Northern Ireland, 15.6 per cent in Scotland and 18.9 per cent in Wales. However, advantaged UK 18 year olds are still 2.4 times more likely to apply to higher education.
Vince Cable, business secretary, welcomed these record figures commenting that,
“There were many who said that the reform of student finance would discourage young people from going to university,” said Mr Cable on a visit to Kingston University.
“The opposite has occurred; numbers have grown, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Greg Clark, universities and science minister was also pleased by the growing numbers.
“Today’s record figures show that people understand the value of higher education – helping them on the path to a rewarding and successful career,”
92,410 more women applied to higher education than men this year, widening the gap between the sexes. The application rate of young women grew five times more than the rate for men and now young women are now 36 per cent more likely to apply than young men.
Within the UK more 18 and 19 year olds (364,790) are applying and less applicants from older age groups are applying. This is more obvious when looking at applicant from England where 309,540 18 and 19 year olds applied in 2015, an increase of 9220 on last year. In 2015 there were 59,860 applicants aged 20-24 a drop of 3,490, and 100,990 applicants aged 25 and older, a drop of 2,640 on 2014.
Pam Tatlow, chief executive of million+ commented that the decline in applications from those over the age of 25 is a ‘major concern’.
London saw the largest amount of applicants where 44 per cent of 18 year olds are now applying, the lowest application rate was from the North East at 31.1 per cent in 2015. 18 year olds fromLondon are (proportionally) 41 per cent more likely to apply higher education than 18 year olds from the North East.