Record Number of 18-Year-Olds Are Applying to University, Data Shows
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Record Number of 18-Year-Olds Are Applying to University, Data Shows

Ella Kipling February 23, 2022

Figures show that the number of British 18-year-olds applying to university directly from school continues to increase at ‘a record pace,’ The Guardian reports.

According to UCAS, 320,000 sixth formers have applied for university places so far which compares to 306,000 in 2021 and almost 50,000 more than at the same stage in 2019. In England alone, 44% of all 18-year-olds applied to higher education institutions, compared with just 33% back in 2013.

However, this increase is not just in England. Record rates of applications among students in Wales and Northern Ireland have also been recorded. What about Scotland? Numbers are second only to the rate recorded last year.

Why have applications increased?

UCAS chief executive Clare Marchant said that this increase in applications can be attributed to universities’ greater use of online recruitment events. Throughout the Covid pandemic, universities advertised their courses via social media and also held virtual open days.

The number of applicants from disadvantaged areas has also risen. 28% of 18-year-olds from areas with the lowest educational attainment have applied for university, compared with just under 18% in 2013.

General Certificate in Secondary Education

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, weighed in by saying that the rise in applications was testament to the hard work of teachers during the pandemic.

He said, however, that ‘it needs to be remembered that far fewer disadvantaged young people enter higher education than their more advantaged peers, and that this gap is particularly stark at the most selective universities.’

What about international students?

While applications from students in England may be increasing, those from international students remained flat. This is likely to be due to the decrease in number of students from the European Union applying to UK universities due to Brexit.

In 2019, nearly 17,000 applicants from the EU applied to UK universities through UCAS, which decreased massively to only 10,000 this year.

However, the data does show an increase in the number of non-EU international students applying to UK unis and 12% more students from China applied through UCAS this year.

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Ella Kipling is an Entertainment and News Writer at GRV Media. She regularly writes a mixture of news and features for HITC and has been part of the team since 2020. After graduating from the University of Birmingham with a BA (Hons) in English Literature, Ella is currently studying for an MA in Magazine Journalism at City University. She has a keen interest in current affairs and can usually be found reading the news, with her nose in a book (and updating her Goodreads), talking about women’s rights, or listening to Showtunes.