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Admissions latest – record numbers for 2016

Eleanor Jubb

Eleanor Jubb

Former Policy Manager
Universities UK

This morning we found out that the numbers of students who’ve found places at universities and colleges across the UK has risen again, for the fourth year in a row. Over 467,000 applicants have already accepted offers – an increase of 3% on last year – and we expect more to be placed in the coming days.


This is on top of strong increases over the past three years and shows that despite recent questions about the value of degree study, the number of applicants is holding steady.





The rise has come from applicants from across the UK – up by 2% this year – and from the EU – up by 11% this year and in line with recent trends.


The number of applicants accepted from outside the EU has remained stable, after increases of 5% in the past two years, but is in line with the most recent applicant figures. We know that only around 60% of international applicants use UCAS, so we may still see an increase in this group when we’re able to look at the final record of the numbers of students starting in September. 


Some of the best news is on improvements in social mobility and widening access to higher education. Across the UK the number of 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged areas (those in POLAR3 quintile 1) has increased by more than those from other areas. Not only that, the proportion of 18-year-olds entering from those disadvantaged areas has had the biggest proportional increase too.




This is following a good increase in the application rate for 18-year-olds in quintile 1 in January. Across the UK their application rate went up by 5%, nearly double the increase in the rate for 18-year-olds from the most advantaged areas.


The latest UCAS figures also show strong increases in the number of mature applicants accepted – particularly those aged over 25, who are up by 7% on last year. Many of these applicants won’t have been to university when they were younger and so these accepted offers represent the opportunity to benefit from all the advantages of higher education. Mature undergraduates are more likely than young undergraduates to be from an ethnic minority and are more likely to have a known disability, so this year’s figures should boost participation from these groups too.


We won’t know the final details of this year’s admissions until UCAS release their end of cycle report in December. UCAS will continue releasing daily updates till 2 September, and we’ll be doing regular updates on them on our visualisation.


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