The percentage of university applications made in the UK this autumn has dropped by two percent compared to last year, with 12,420 less domestic students applying for higher education, according to the newest figures from UCAS.
By comparison, there has been a surge in the number of international students applying to UK universities with 7,260 more students applying from the EU and rest of the world than in the year before.
Whilst the two percent fall in domestic students applying for university might seem concerning at first, it is mostly due to the fact there are fewer 18-year-olds in the population able to go to university this year.
However, a severe drop has also been seen in the number of older students applying to go to university this year. In particular, concern has been expressed towards nursing courses, which saw a dramatic ten percent decrease in applications.
This is thought to be due to the switch from NHS bursaries to tuition fees leading people to not be as willing to take on nursing, prompting worry for the future. UCAS has since urged the government to prioritise the needs of mature students in its review of Higher Education funding in the UK.
These worrying figures don’t remove the fact that nearly 40 percent of 18-year-olds in the UK are applying for university, equating to over 230,000 applications.
Nevertheless, the decline in applications may produce a cause for concern for higher education, despite UCAS insisting that there is still a strong demand, especially with the potential, and currently unknown, damning effect of Brexit.
Clare Marchant, the CEO of UCAS, said: “Today’s figures show the enduring attraction of a full-time degree for young people and the desirability of UK higher education to students from around the world.
“While this is undoubtedly good news, we must not overlook the continuing fall in applications from older UK students, particularly to study nursing.”