Go Back
4th July 2023

UCAS predicts one million applications by 2030

Understanding the implications of this is essential for universities

We welcomed UCAS into our offices to offer up some interesting insights and trends into this year’s university applications and beyond. Here are a few key highlights:

  1. The knowledge gained from the 2022 student entry data was significant. There were 762,000 applicants, resulting in 563,000 university placements, with 66,500 admissions through clearing. Non-UK applications accounted for 73,000. Regional disparities in participation were evident, with London and the South East at nearly 50% compared to the North East at approximately 30%. Clearing acceptances experienced an 18% year-on-year increase. The achieved grades average in 2022 returned to pre-pandemic levels and were even below the levels of 2020.
  2. The current status of applications for 2023 already shows some interesting changes. As of January 2023, there were 596,000 applications for the upcoming year. UK applications totalled 314,000, down 2% from the previous year, while non-UK applications has reached 94,000, reflecting a 4% increase. Notable changes in subject choices included a 5% rise in Law applications and a 10% increase in Computing courses. However, Medicine and Education applications declined by 5% and 15% respectively.
  3. Students’ decisions for 2023 are being driven by cost and location. In students’ decision-making for 2023, League Tables are decreasing in importance, while accommodation and travel costs are gaining significance. Despite rising costs, the desire to attend university remains high (81%). Cost considerations are impacting Open Day attendance, with 39% reducing the number of Open Days attended. The top lifestyle factor influencing choices is now location within the town and the cost of living, whereas last year it was location within the town and equality and diversity. Students feel universities are not adequately addressing the cost-of-living concern and there is an increased consideration of living at home.
  4. Clearing places are expected to increase year on year. Student sentiment indicates that applicants this year are planning on finding a place in Higher Education for their desired next step – likely increasing the numbers that use both their insurance choice and Clearing. Clearing is also evolving into a more pre-planned route, with students increasingly considering it as an intentional option. UCAS’s clearing forecasts indicate an increased demand in Clearing from both people that have applied already and those that apply directly to Clearing.
  5. One million applications by 2030. Considerable attention is being given to the journey towards accommodating 1,000,000 students and the implications it holds for university funding, size, and structure. Analysing the current trajectory becomes crucial in determining the proportion of domestic students compared to international students and the potential implications arising from this dynamic. Understanding these implications is essential for universities in terms of resource allocation, support services, and fostering a diverse and inclusive learning environment.

These insights provide us with a glimpse into the higher education landscape based on available UCAS data. There shows a need for universities to remain informed and adaptable in their strategies to meet future challenges and changing student preferences.

Want to see what we can do for you?

Show Me