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Rise in applicants planning to start university despite fears of deferrals

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Student looking happy with a piece of paper showing his results

Data published by UCAS today shows a rise in the number of pupils who have accepted a place on a degree course for the next academic year when compared to this point last year. This is despite the coronavirus pandemic and speculation that these number would drop.

There has been an increase of almost 6,000 applicants currently holding a firm offer for an immediate start in September – rising from 494,530 applicants in 2019 to 500,340 this year.

Speculation has suggested that many applicants would delay studying at university given the impact coronavirus may have on their studying and experience in higher education. However the data shows these fears are unfounded, with fewer students deferring this year compared to last.

In fact, a recent survey by Universities UK revealed that 97% of universities said they will provide in-person teaching at the start of term this year, with 78 universities (87%), also stating that they will offer in-person social opportunities to students, including outside events and sporting activities, all in line with government and public health guidance.

UCAS said it has decided to release the offer-acceptance data for the first time “to provide the clearest possible picture of students’ behaviour” at this point in the application cycle.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said:

“I am really pleased to see that most students have committed to going to university in September, when compared to this point last year, despite uncertainty they may have had worries around the coronavirus.

“This is testament to the unwavering efforts of our higher education sector during the pandemic, with many universities setting out clear plans of how in person and online teaching will continue next year.

“I am confident that universities will continue to provide a word-class education as well as excellent support for students starting in September.”


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