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19th December, 2013

Record number of applicants accepted into UK higher education: UCAS

The UCAS 2013 End of Cycle Report paints a picture of increased recruitment at the UK's universities and colleges following a dip in 2012. Some 495,596 students were accepted to full time undergraduate courses, 6.6 per cent up, and the highest total ever recorded.

Acceptances of UK students to UK institutions are also at a record level (433,612), 6.7 per cent up, with young people and the most disadvantaged more likely to enter higher education than ever before.

Most of the increase relates to institutions in England (7.1 per cent) and Wales (5.7 per cent); institutions in Northern Ireland grew by 9.2 per cent and those in Scotland by 1.5 per cent.

There are a number of key findings from the report.

     Young people across the UK are more likely to enter higher education than at any time before

     Entry rates for disadvantaged young people are at the highest levels recorded across the UK, with disadvantaged 18 year olds in England 70 per cent more likely to enter higher education in 2013 than in 2004

     There were substantial rises in the disadvantaged and free school meal entry rate to higher tariff institutions by 11 per cent and 22 per cent respectively - but both remain low compared to advantaged groups

     An increase in 19 year olds in 2013 pushed the overall entry rates for those who were 18 in 2012 up to 40 per cent, a new high, and redressing the dip in entry for 18 year olds in 2012

     Almost all 18 year old A level applicants got offers in 2013. Institutions made a record number of offers so that over half of applicants received four or more offers and almost a third had five offers* to choose from

     Acceptance rates and acceptances for all age groups in the UK have increased in 2013: 76,900 UK 20-24 year olds were placed in higher education in 2013, an increase of 8.3 per cent and more than in any other cycle

     More students were placed at their first choice of course, including a 20 per cent rise in the number using Clearing as their first application route

     At English institutions, where the cap on recruitment was lifted for students with equivalent grades of ABB or better, the proportion of acceptances with these grades fell by 1 per cent. There were increases in accepted students meeting the ABB threshold through BTEC (vocational qualifications), especially in lower and medium tariff institutions

     The most selective institutions accepted 10 per cent more students in 2013. They also accepted more students outside the high grade ABB set, 70 per cent higher than two years ago.

Commenting on the report, UCAS Chief Executive Mary Curnock Cook said: "Predictions of a reduced appetite for higher education following the rise in tuition fees were premature. With 19 year old admissions up by 18 per cent in England, we can see that the dip in demand in 2012 was perhaps a pause for thought more of those who were 18 in 2012 have now started university than those who were 18 in either 2010 or 2011.

"Greater competition amongst institutions meant that aspiring students were able to choose from a record number of offers and were more likely than ever to gain a place on their preferred course, including through Clearing which was a genuine market place for all types of courses and institutions this year.

"The higher education sector has been particularly successful in attracting and enrolling applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds in 2013 and I welcome this further reduction in the gap between rich and poor".

However, she went on to warn that the UK is still experiencing a decline in the young population. "The population fall, coupled with a declining proportion of pupils taking A levels compared to vocational qualifications, is changing the pipeline for recruitment to higher education".




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