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Record number of students accepted into their first choice of university

first choice of university

A record 395,770 students, up 8% from 365,500 in 2020, have a confirmed place on their first choice of full-time undergraduate course in the UK. This represents 91% of everyone with a confirmed place, an increase from 88% last year. (@ucas_online)

Students are receiving their exam results this morning and signing in to UCAS Track to see if their place at university or college has been confirmed. For the first time, students from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are receiving their grades at the same time on a single results day.

In total, a record 435,430 students have a place, up 5% on results day 2020.

Across the UK, the key acceptance numbers are:

  • In England, 326,180 students (up 10%) have been accepted. Of those, 210,850 are 18 year olds (up 18%). This means of all the 18 year olds in England, 34.7% are set to start a degree course, an increase from 30.4% in 2020.
  • In Northern Ireland, 12,690 students (up 2%) have been accepted, with 8,690 aged 18 (up 8%). The 18 year old entry rate for Northern Ireland is 38.9%, up from 36.0% last year.
  • In Scotland, 32,580 students (up 12% on last year’s Scottish results day) have a place through UCAS, with 15,470 aged 18 (up 22%). Scotland’s 18 year old entry rate through UCAS is 28.0% up from 23.9% in 2020.
  • In Wales, 16,790 students (up 6%) have been accepted, with 10,330 aged 18 (up 16%). Wales’ 18 year old entry rate is 31.2%, up from 27.3% last year.
  • For the whole UK 388,230 students (up 8%) have been accepted, with 245,330 aged 18 (up 17%). The overall UK 18 year old entry rate is 34.1%, up from 30.2% in 2020.

A record 20.7% of all UK 18 year olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds (POLAR4 quintile 1) in the UK have an undergraduate place, 26,640 accepted students). However, as yet there has been no progress in closing the gap to students from the most advantaged areas (with 48.4% accepted). In Scotland specifically, the gap between SIMDQ1 and Q5 has marginally narrowed. 

The number of students accepted onto nursing courses has increased by 8%, to 26,730.

8,560 (up 23%) students from England have been accepted onto medicine and dentistry courses, up from 6,960 on results day 2020.

Internationally, a new high of 37,390 (+9%) students from outside the EU have been accepted, with markets including Malaysia (up 33% to 2,230 placed applicants), USA (up 33% to 2,160) and Nigeria (up 40% to 840) showing substantial increases. 9,820 EU students have been accepted to study in the UK, a fall of 56%.

All today’s data can be explored in an interactive dashboard and downloaded from the UCAS website. Updates will be published at 11:00 each weekday until Friday 27 August.

For those without a place, or not holding an offer but still keen to start an undergraduate course, UCAS’ personalised Clearing Plus service is helping match them to the right course.

In total in 2020, a record 82,915 people were placed through Clearing, with 24,755 applying for the first time directly into Clearing.

Last week, UCAS published research showing 78% of students who are getting their qualification results today but don’t have plans to study a full-time degree at university, are interested in starting an apprenticeship.

UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant said:

“Congratulations to everyone who has worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic and achieved grades reflecting their efforts.

“Universities have been flexible with their decisions to accommodate as many students as possible onto their first choice of course. Over the following days and weeks, we’re ready to help anyone without a place find the opportunity that’s right for them in Clearing.

“After around a decade of widening participation progress, albeit slow, it is disappointing to see it stall, though this should be seen in light of record numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds being accepted.

“We know that many young people are looking at all of their options, with over three quarters of those who haven’t applied through UCAS saying they’re interested in an apprenticeship. Through our trusted, engaging, and timely information and advice, such as our CareerFinder service, we’re helping everyone discover what their next step could be.”

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