According to Ucas, a record-breaking 40.5% of all 18-year-olds in the UK have applied to university, with application numbers seeing a significant rise during the lockdown period. This is the first time that more than four out of 10 students (40.5%) have applied to go to university by 30 June, offering some comfort to universities that are bracing themselves for the Covid-19 aftershock. Last year, at the same point in the admissions cycle, the figure was 38.9%, but applications rose by 17% between mid-March and the end of June, when the pandemic was at its height in the UK.
Ucas further reports that applications for nursing are up 15% year on year, while for the first time, more than a quarter (25.4%) of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have applied for university or college by 30 June.
Despite a promising start, it remains to be seen exactly how many students will decide against going to university in September due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on their student experience. The Institute for Fiscal Studies warned earlier this week that as many as 13 British universities may face financial ruin due to the after-effects of the coronavirus pandemic, depending on how many students eventually enrol.
As of 30 June, over 514,000 people of all ages across the UK have applied for a place on an undergraduate course, a 1.6% increase from figures at the same point last year. Figures show an overall increase of 10% for applicants from outside the EU and a decrease of 2% for those from the EU compared to last year. However, these figures could fluctuate significantly by the start of the new academic year.
Despite this, Ucas CEO Clare Marchant expresses confidence in universities’ and colleges’ plans to welcome students to their campuses in the autumn, with many campuses now intending to combine quality online learning with face-to-face teaching and support.