By the UCAS June deadline, the consistency of the next academic year’s undergraduate intake is pretty much established. Institutions will currently be poring over their own data – yet to be reconfigured by the vagaries of A-level results and clearing – and at a sector level it’s a great moment to take a look across the whole intake.
We’re given a lot of interesting data; I’ve pulled out three slices that I think are particularly interesting for deeper examination.
We already know about – and will return to – the decline in Nursing, which forms a fair-sized part of Subjects Allied to Medicine. But what I’d not seen before is the steady year-on-year drop of Creative Arts and Design as a subject category. You might think that the influx of smaller private arts colleges may have driven some growth – though many applications in these cases may take place outside of UCAS. It’s too early to suspect that the negative message around arts subjects has taken hold in the imagination of arts students, or that the shift in emphasis away from arts in the compulsory sector is having an effect – but this is a trend to keep an eye on.
Business Studies – another set of applicants favoured by new market entrants, also seems to have be falling slightly. I should emphasise that these are still (along with Biological Sciences and Social Sciences) the major subject groups for applicants.
Lower down the graph, we see rises in applications to Law and Computer Science, the expected rise in Medicine and Dentistry (recall that these subjects still have number caps). Combined subject courses (especially those that combine arts and sciences) continue to fall, which is a shame as in terms of citizenship, skills and the idea of a liberal education they make a lot of sense.
We take a look at how international interest may (or may not) be driven by TEF elsewhere on the site – this visualisation looks at the changes over time for recruitment, by country (on the first tab) and by region (on the second).
For the map, you are looking at this year’s recruitment and the percentage difference from last year. To travel back in time simply use the slider at the top of the screen.
Here we see, for all the bullishness about EU recruitment, that we are only just returning to pre-referendum levels. Numbers in other countries frequently highlighted as important emerging markets remain steady, though we are seeing recent growth in India and a long-term growth trend continues in China. But, in terms of UCAS undergraduate applications, at least, the EU is still the major player, and we should treat performance as mildly encouraging rather than excellent – as a proportion of the market EU applicants are big and should really be bigger.
More broadly, numbers from Russia continue to fall (a multi-year trend), and drops in Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be watched carefully.
Nursing – it’s not just mature students
The huge drops in recruitment across all age groups for Nursing are not as drastic this time around, but from 18-year-olds upwards the slump continues. Previously Nursing had recruited from a slightly older demographic, but these numbers have now sunk so low that, for the first time, there are more 18-year-old applicants than any other single group.
One very tiny glimmer of hope – there is a slight uptick in male 18-year-olds applying to Nursing. Alas, this is only around 50 extra applicants – not quite all the new nurses we need.