40% of 18-Year-Olds Apply to University This Academic Year


2 in 5 18-year-olds in the UK are applying for a place to study at University this year, UCAS have confirmed.

326,030 students aged 18 submitted a UCAS application ahead of the 15 January deadline, which is the final date for applications to receive ‘equal consideration’ – universities and colleges have to review applications received by this deadline. This is a rise of 2.73% on the 2019 application cycle. On top of this, there were 45,390 applications sent by 18-year-olds before the 15 October deadline, reserved for applicants for Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, and all Oxford and Cambridge applications.

This rise in applications from 18-year-olds has occurred despite a decrease in the 18-year-old population in the UK of 1.5%, and comes in light of universities increasingly competing for undergraduates despite standard tuition fees being at £9,250 per year, as well as students finding it difficult to fund their basic needs like food and rent at university.

Clare Marchant, the Chief Executive of UCAS, said:

Students are making the most of this year’s unprecedented opportunity to apply to university, as more applicants are expected to receive offers, the equality gap continues to narrow, and the UK’s 18-year-old population is expected to grow again in 2021.

This number does not, however, represent the whole picture – students are still able to apply to university after the 15 January deadline through a variety of routes which UCAS provides, like Extra and Clearing. In the 2019 cycle, nearly 20,000 applicants were placed at universities in the UK after having applied directly through Clearing.

There has also been a rise in the number of non-UK applicants, both from the European Union and outside of the EU, too. 8,530 more students from outside of the UK applied to study at universities in the UK in this cycle, despite the uncertain future of the UK after Brexit.

There was also small growth in the number of applications from those living in the most deprived areas. Using the Index of Multiple Deprivation, UCAS confirmed that there was a rise in the number of students applying from the bottom 20% of LSOAs when ranked for deprivation.

When looking at accommodation choices, though, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) state that, for the first time, more students are living at home during term-time than are living in Halls of Residence.

This cohort of 18-year-olds are the second year group to have been impacted by Michael Gove’s educational reforms which saw GCSE grades changed from the traditional A*-G to 9-1, and are the first cohort to have subjects other than Maths and English graded in this way. A-Level grading remained the same.




Sports Editor and 2nd Year Population & Geography student

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