Record Number of Disadvantaged Students in UK Applied for University This Year, Latest Data Show

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A record number of students in the United Kingdom from disadvantaged backgrounds have applied to start university or college this autumn, the latest data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), a UK-based organization offering admission services, have revealed.

According to figures, 28 percent of disadvantaged students have applied to start university, an increase from 17.8 percent nine years ago, Erudera.com reports.

Northern Ireland, England, and Wales have seen record application rates, which stand as follows:

  • 52.6 percent in Northern Ireland
  • 44.1 percent in England
  • 37.5 percent in Wales

The application rate in Scotland, according to UCAS, was 35.4 percent, the second-highest percentage from last years’ record high.

This year, the number of Chinese and Indian students applying to UK universities also increased, with the number of Indian applicants doubling in the past two years.

Applications from China increased by 12.1 percent, to 28,930 applicants, whereas those from India grew by 11 percent yearly, or to 8,660 applicants in total.

Nigeria, prioritized in the UK’s International Education Strategy, has also experienced an increase of 47 percent year-on-year, from 1,620 applicants in 2021 to 2,380 this year.

Among EU countries, number of applications from Ireland has increased, with 5,100 applicants, up from 4,850 in 2021 and 3,850 in 2020.

Chief Executive at UCAS, Clare Marchant, said that this year was going to be of crucial importance for the international student market as the country recovers from the pandemic and allows international travel.

 “Whilst applications have been very resilient throughout the pandemic, the robust demand from China, India and Hong Kong shows the enduring appeal of our world-class universities, with our recent report indicating that nearly 9 in 10 still view the UK as an attractive place to study,” Marchant said.

After the deadline to submit university applications closed in January, data revealed that the number of UK 18-year-olds applying for university increased by 5 percent, from 306,200 to 320,420. Differently, applications from mature applicants decreased by 17 percent compared to 2021, when the number of applications increased by 24 percent amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall applications for full-time undergraduate applications for university and college courses that start this coming autumn fell slightly by 1% (610,720 in 2022 vs 616,360 2021),” UCAS notes.

This year, the United Kingdom has also managed to attract 600,000 international students, meeting the target ten years earlier than hoped, according to statistics by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

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