UCAS figures too early to predict student demand but suggest students are taking the time to carefully consider their options

Universities Scotland responded to today’s (Monday 24 October) UCAS applicant figures for entry to university in 2012, saying the figures come too early in the cycle to make accurate predictions about student demand. The only certainty the data can offer is that students are choosing to take more time to make their choices following a year of significant change in fees and student finance North and South of the border.

Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:


“This set of applicant figures was always going to be volatile because of all the changes to fees north and south of the border. However, it’s very early in the applications cycle and far too early to tell anything about student demand with any certainty.

“About the only thing that is clear from this data is that prospective students are choosing to weigh up their decisions more carefully and apply later in the cycle. That’s perfectly reasonable given all the changes and the fact that many Scottish universities only set out their fee intentions for students from the rest of the UK a few weeks ago.”


The application figures by October 15, is the first indication of applicants to university since English universities set fees of up to £9,000 per year and since Scottish universities announced their fee intentions for students who are ordinarily resident in the rest of the UK.

The figures show a nine per cent decrease in applicants of all domicile to all universities across the UK. However, the data strongly suggest that most students across the UK who did not need to make this early deadline are opting to take longer to consider their options and apply later in the cycle. The drop in applicants from whom it was necessary to make the 15 October deadline to study medicine, veterinary medicine and all courses at the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge, was significantly lower at only 0.8 per cent compared to last year (table 1b of UCAS release).

The figures also show the number of applicants from across the rest of the UK (RUK) to universities in Scotland – the first set of data since Scottish universities set their indicative fees throughout September. Applicants from England, Wales and Northern Ireland to Scottish universities had fallen by 5.7 per cent by the 15 October. However, this decrease is less than half the drop in UK applicants to universities in England which was down by 11.9 per cent. So far this suggests that Scottish universities have not been as adversely affected by the drop in applicants as universities across the rest of the UK.

Alastair Sim said:


“Universities across Scotland are very keen that students from the rest of the UK continue to apply to study here. Universities were only able to set out their fee intentions for students from the rest of the UK in September so students across the UK will no doubt still be looking to gather this information.

“We’d encourage students from the rest of the UK to look not just at Scottish fee levels but to make sure they find out about the new bursary and scholarship packages Scottish universities have made available to ensure that they are offering opportunities to students of all backgrounds.”


The deadline for applications to university is not for another three months, on 15 January 2012. UCAS advise against extrapolating forward across the remainder of the applications cycle based on this early data as year-on-year changes are often different from the position later in the cycle.