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UK University Applications Rise to Record Levels Under Lockdown

UK University Applications Rise to Record Levels Under Lockdown main image

A record number of people have applied for university this year in the UK, according to new figures released by UCAS.

A total of 514,020 people from across the UK have applied for undergraduate courses through the Universities and College Admissions Service (UCAS) this year. This is up by 1.6 percent from this time last year.

The data is based on the applications made to UCAS by the June 30th deadline.

Clare Marchant, UCAS' Chief Executive, said: “At this moment, we’re seeing an encouraging picture emerge out of national lockdown, with currently more applicants than last year keen to expand their mind, stretch themselves, and seize the opportunities that higher education can offer”.

Over 40 percent of UK 18-year-olds applying

Over 40 percent of UK 18-year-olds applying

A staggering 40.5 percent of all 18-year-olds in the UK applied for university this year, up from 38.9 percent of 18-year-olds at the same time in 2019.

There has also been a rise in university applications from students from disadvantaged backgrounds. UCAS reports that over a quarter (25.4 percent) of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have applied for university or college this year. 

Rising numbers of non-EU international students 

The number of applications to universities in the UK from people living outside the EU has also risen this year by 10 percent to 89,130.

Contrastingly, applications to UK universities from within the EU dropped by two percent to 49,650 this year.

“Universities and colleges are setting out their ambitions to welcome students to their campuses this autumn,” said Marchant, “with many planning to blend high quality online learning with face-to-face teaching and support.

“Confidence is building for an autumn term that safely captures the essence of the academic year’s traditional start as much as possible.”

High numbers of students deferring 

There are expected to be high numbers of students deferring. According to an ongoing QS survey, 55 percent of students who were planning to study abroad this year said they were now planning to defer.

However, of the students who said they were planning to study abroad in 2020, 62 percent said they still expect to start their studies this year, despite the coronavirus, with a further 31 percent expecting to start in 2021. 

Lockdown boosting applications

Lockdown boosting applications

Another surprising aspect of the data was that the number of people applying to university since January has risen 10 per cent, and 17 per cent since March.

This coincides with the UK’s lockdown which started on March 23rd, suggesting that lockdown may be a contributing factor to the rise in university applications.

This increase be explained by the significant recession that the UK is expecting in the near future, which will likely make it harder to find jobs.

Rise in nursing applications

There has also been a rise in applications for nursing courses this year, with 58,550 applications in the UK in 2020 by the June 30th deadline, compared to only 50,880 last year. Marchant suggests these applications may also have been influenced by the coronavirus.

She said: “We should celebrate seeing so many people keen to embark on a rewarding career in nursing.

“Inspirational stories throughout this pandemic have clearly sparked imaginations, with people from all walks of life applying, determined to help others at a time when our universities are making huge contributions to fighting coronavirus.”

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Written by Chloe Lane
A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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