UK Demand for Higher Ed Increases, White Students Lag Behind

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) in the United Kingdom has released a report that outlines demand for full-time undergraduate higher education in the UK in the 2013 compared to previous years, finding that overall demand is high, but that certain demographic sub-groups are struggling.

The analytical demand report published on July 23 examines trends in demand by age, sex, advantage and disadvantage, region and ethnic group, as well as the nature of demand by institution group, subject and tuition fee schedule.

The report found that demand for higher education from young people is at or near record levels for each country of the UK in 2013; application rates have increased to high, medium and low tariff institutional groups in 2013; application rates for 18 year olds in England have risen in 2013, resuming historical trends; and application rates for young, disadvantaged groups have increased to new highs in England.

According to the report, application rates for young 18-year old have increased by 1% to 35% in 2013. Application rates for 18 year olds in Northern Ireland have increased to 48%, while application rates in Scotland rose to 32% and increased to 30% in Wales.

Most applications to full-time higher education were made by 18 and 19 year olds, representing around 60% of all applicants at the March deadline. The applicants in this age group are either in their final year of school or college or are applying in the year immediately following finishing school or college, according to the report.

UCAS Chief Executive Mary Curnock Cook said: "Young application rates for higher education are rising again after falls in 2012 and the gap between rich and poor is closing as disadvantaged groups are applying at record levels."

For older age groups, demand has fallen in 2013 by between 3% and 10%. These older age groups experienced unusually large increases in application rates in 2009 and 2010, and their application rates in 2013 remain higher than those recorded before those increases, according to the report.

The report found that there is a wide variation in the application rates of pupils in state schools by their recorded ethnic group. In 2013, these ranged from over 50% of pupils in the Chinese ethnic group applying to fewer than 30% of pupils in the White ethnic group, writes Graeme Paton of The Telegraph.

The application rates of all ethnic groups has increased since 2006, and all groups show the same trend of a reduction in demand in 2012 and an increase in 2013. The greatest increase in application rates since 2006 is seen for pupils in the Black ethnic group, as their application rate has increased from 20% in 2006 to 34% in 2013 — a 70% proportional increase.

"Our new analysis of demand by ethnic group shows that white pupils at English schools now have the lowest application rate of any ethnic group. There has been significant growth in demand from black pupils. There are eye-catching regional variations in demand, with the north of England generally showing higher growth rates than the south."

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