The number of people who have applied to UK higher education courses for 2017 is 649,700, approx 25,000 fewer than at this point last year.
The Numbers by Location
- 529,620 UK applicants (a decrease of 4% compared to this point last year)
- 49,250 EU applicants (a decrease of 5%)
- 70,830 applicants from other overseas countries (an increase of 2%).
Focusing on UK Applications
- UK: 437,860 from England (a decrease of 5% on 2016)
- 48,940 from Scotland (down 1% on 2016)
- 22,530 from Wales (down 5% on 2016)
- 20,290 from Northern Ireland (down 4% on 2016).
By Age Group
- There are around 321,950 18-year-old applicants, an increase of 1,510 on last year.
- There were 315,200 applicants at the deadline aged 19 or older (a decrease of 27,180 on last year).
Focus on Nursing
There are additional statistics on applicants to nursing courses. Overall, there are 53,010 applicants to nursing courses, representing a decrease of 19% compared to this point last year.
Responding to the publication of the figures, Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, said: "These figures confirm what we know already from UCAS about application figures for this year. There are several possible reasons behind the drop in numbers. Last year was a record high for applications and, factors such as Brexit and changes to the way degrees in nursing, midwifery and some other allied health professions in England are funded, could also be having an impact. There has also been a fall in the number of 18 and 19 year olds across the UK population since 2010. This group makes up over half of all UK applicants to universities. The rate of applications from this age group, however, is at record levels, highlighting continued demand for university courses.
"We recognise there are a number of issues to address. Continuing to communicate to European applicants that they are welcome and enrich our education system is important. The decline in part-time and mature student entrants must also be addressed. We recognise also the concern about the total cost of going to university. Any analysis needs to cover the cost of maintenance and the interest rate on the loans."
NUS President Shakira Martin said: “These figures are further evidence that the government urgently needs to review the education funding system. Some have claimed that rising fees and the lack of proper financial support for students have not deterred people from attending University. Clearly, this is completely untrue.
We can see that there is a drop of 9% in Black and Ethnic Minority applicants: a group which have consistently shown to be more debt averse and therefore more likely to be put off by student fees. The sharp drop in mature students also highlights how completely unaffordable University is for many: applicants over 18 are less likely to be supported by their parents, more likely to have their own financial and caring responsibilities, and are more likely to be aware of the risks of taking on huge amounts of debt.
The most horrifying figure released today is the 19% drop in nursing applicants. That this huge drop follows cuts to nursing bursaries is no surprise. What is surprising is that the government could not foresee the catastrophic effect that these cuts would have. Traditionally, 50% of nursing students are parents. When students are put in a position which essentially forces them to live in poverty while completing their studies, it is unsurprising that those with children feel unable to take part.
The education funding system is not working, and as applicant numbers continue to drop the government needs to wake up to the reality that if we don’t review the system now, we will have to pay a huge price a few years down the line.”