The UCAS’ final date to apply for up to five courses on 30th June, shows that the overall number of UK 18-year-old applicants is at the second-highest level (319,570 in 2023, down from 326,190 in 2022 but up from 311,010 in 2021).
Offer-making is strong despite increased competition
This year, there has been an uplift in offer rates across all provider groups following the previous period of decline, with new UCAS figures showing 76.2% of UK 18-year-olds are holding an offer compared to 73.9% in 2022.
Subject choices are changing
As of January 2023, there were 596,000 applications for the upcoming year. Notable changes in subject choices included a 5% rise in Law applications and a 10% increase in Computing courses. However, Medicine and Education applications have declined by 5% and 15% respectively. This makes Computing courses the 7th most popular course, behind Medicine (156,460 applications), Biological and Sports Sciences (105,490), Engineering and Technology (96,180), Social Sciences (178,680), Business and Management (184,000), and Design, Creative and Performing Arts (126,310).
Growth in new international markets emerging
The number of international applicants (all ages) stands at 138,050, up from 134,870 in 2022 (+2.4%) and 130,390 in 2021 (+5.9%). This is driven by interest from India (+ 8.7%), the Middle East (+20.8%) and Africa (+3.9%). Meanwhile, applicants from China are down by 2.2%, most likely due to Covid-19 restrictions. Although there is an increase in the number of international students this year, their overall offer rates are similar to last year at 54%. Diversification is crucial in today’s global competition, as countries like the USA, Canada, and Australia also pursue ambitious policies to expand their market presence.
Thousands of courses will be on offer
Last year, record numbers of UK 18-year-olds secured a place in clearing (direct and main scheme) – 34,875, up from 26,305 in 2021 and 34,370 in 2019. Clearing is evolving into a more pre-planned route, with some students increasingly considering it as an intentional option. There is a need to reassure applicants that there will be plenty of choices available for those still actively seeking progression to HE after results day, with around 30,000 courses still available.
Students seeking paid work to support their studies
UCAS polling on student attitudes shows a shift in student expectations – faced with cost pressures, they are much more likely to save and earn rather than not go to university, defer, or pursue a different route entirely. It is important for universities to give applicants timely, relevant support as the economic climate means more students look for constant reassurance on this during their decision-making journey.
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