UK Universities Will Witness 30% Rise in Applicants by 2030, According to Predictions

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News by Erudera News Mar 29, 2023


The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the organization that manages the application process for British universities, has forecasted a 30 percent increase in the number of higher education applicants by the end of this decade.

According to UCAS predictions, there could be up to a million applicants to universities in the UK in one year in 2030, an increase from more than three-quarters of a million in 2022, reports.

After releasing these figures, UCAS announced it has kicked off a national discussion on five challenges and opportunities that come along with the increasing number of applicants, during the potential Journey to a Million – the name of UCAS series of essays on the topic.

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon has contributed to the debate with his essay where he describes the prediction that a million students will apply to British universities over this decade as remarkable.

“I want young people to understand all their options and choose the best path for them. That may be university, but it may equally be further education or an apprenticeship. As the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, I do not set any of these apart from one another – and neither does UCAS,” the Minister said.

Projections show the 30 percent rise in the number of applicants by 2030 will be driven by the growing 18-year student population as well as the number of mobile students.

Chief Executive of UCAS, Clare Marchant, said that the increasing demand this decade is not only an education challenge but also an economic one, which will have a big impact on the current and future shape of the UK.

“If we do not collectively act today, we risk missing a significant economic opportunity, whilst also leaving a generation behind,” Clare said.

UCAS has also forecasted a 20 percent increase in the number of Northern Irish school leavers seeking to enroll at the universities by the end of the decade. This increase for university places across the region is, in particular, expected to be higher in Northern Ireland than in Scotland or Wales.

Despite predictions, the Department for the Economy (DfE) may deal with significant budget cuts, which means students in Northern Ireland might see fewer university places available.

The number of undergraduate students at Northern Ireland universities is restricted and depends on the department’s budget, CNN reports.

Northern Ireland has the highest share of 18-year-olds continuing higher education than any other country in the UK. In recent years, undergraduate admissions in Northern Ireland were at a record high, with only a slight decrease recorded last year.

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