The number of students placed by UCAS in higher education has exceeded half a million for the first time, UCAS’ End of Cycle Report reveals today (19 December 2014).
Some 512,400 people secured places in UK universities and colleges, up nearly 17,000 on 2013 (+3.4%). More UK students than ever were accepted into UK HE (447,500, +3.2%) alongside record numbers of students from outside the UK.
The total number of applicants (699,700) almost equalled the levels seen in 2011 (700,200), the year before the introduction of higher tuition fees in England, and applicant numbers have increased from all UK countries.
Universities and colleges made more offers to applicants (+6%) this year, with the number receiving a full set of five offers at its highest ever level (137,300 from the UK and EU).
Placed applicant numbers from all age groups in the UK have never been higher, with the 20-24 group rising by 4.1% to 80,000 and the over 25s increasing by 8.6% to 52,300.
Entry rates from young people in the least advantaged groups have increased to record highs across the UK.
Disadvantaged young people are over 10% more likely to enter HE than they were a year ago.
Entry rates for English young people from all ethnic groups increased in 2014.
While the A Level remains the most popular qualification taken by students entering HE, the entry rate for those holding BTECs has risen once more this year, with 18 year olds becoming 20% more likely to enter holding this qualification than last year.
For the first time UCAS reports on the wide range of entry rates for young people living in each of the 650 parliamentary constituencies of the UK. Some have around 50% of 18 year olds progressing to HE this year, while others have less than 15%.
The gap between men and women has widened to over eight percentage points this year. The imbalance is replicated across 98% of constituencies. Young women are also 26 per cent more likely than men to enter higher tariff universities and colleges.
Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS’ Chief Executive said: “While the 2014 cycle marks a return to ‘normality’ after the turbulence which followed the raising of tuition fees and partial exemption from number controls in England from 2012, a market has been created in higher education.
“Many universities and colleges have had to work hard to recruit, making significantly more offers and being flexible in their entry requirements. This means applicants can afford to be bolder in their choices.
“Our work this year on parliamentary constituency entry rates show arresting differences, with a range between 15% and 50% of their young populations progressing to higher education. Clearly, there is still important work to do to support access to higher education in some parts of the country.”