record number of students starting university

It seems school leavers across the UK have shrugged off fears about the continuing impact of Covid and applied for undergraduate places in record numbers. UCAS is predicting that the increase in applications and offer-making will see a record number of students starting university or college this autumn.

increase of offers

Applications to the most selective universities have also increased and offers from these institutions are also up from last year’s high – including a 20% rise since 2019 in offers to students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

Even those not going to university but instead taking up an apprenticeship or placement have increased this year. UCAS’s CareerFinder, which helps students find jobs and degree/higher apprenticeships, saw a record 1.35 million searches in the last 12 months, up 37% from 986,000 in 2020. These searches have resulted in 225,000 job applications, an increase from 181,000 last year (+24%).

The total number of applicants through UCAS, including mature and international students, also hit a new high of 682,000, with a record 400,000 women applying!

In other great news (for the NHS specifically), the pandemic appears to have encouraged record numbers to apply to nursing courses: nearly 66,000 people have sought places this year, a 19% increase compared with 2020. Applications for medicine and dentistry places were also up by 23%.

Universities have responded to the extra demand by increasing the number of offers they are sending, including a 20% rise since 2019 in offers to students living in disadvantaged areas.

record high number of students

Things are not so positive for students from the EU. University chiefs were prepared for the worst when applications from European Union students to study on undergraduate courses in the United Kingdom fell by 43% by the time of the UCAS deadline of 30 June. Yet it continued to drop to 56% by 10 August, shocking the system. Accepted EU applicants have fallen from 22,430 last year to just 9,820 this year.

A sharp decline in interest in studying at British universities among students from the 27 European Union countries was expected as this is the first year that EU students can no longer get loans and grants from the UK Student Loans Company as a result of the Brexit deal and the end of the transition period for the UK’s departure from the European bloc.

EU students must now find the £9,250 (€10,850) or more for UK university tuition fees and pay up front, and this has devastated recruitment from the less wealthy EU member states.

Despite the lack of EU applicants, the UK is still experiencing an increase in offers and expects to see a record high number of students arriving at university this autumn/winter. This is exceptional news for the PBSA sector as fears of irreparable damage were rife this time last year, but with numbers like these all vying for a place at their chosen accommodation, it doesn’t look like the PBSA sector had anything to worry about.