First-year university numbers drop for first time in five years

The number of 18-year-olds in the United Kingdom accepted into university has fallen for the first time in five years, writes Hazel Shearing for BBC News. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service says there has been a “return to normal growth following the surge of demand seen during the pandemic”.

Applications also fell, after demand rose in the pandemic, and about 85% of applicants were accepted in both years. Fewer students got into their first choice of university this year – but more qualified for their second choice, or accepted places through clearing. Top A-level results dropped again this year, as grades in England were brought back to pre-COVID levels.

The new data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service shows 270,350 UK 18-year-olds were accepted on to a course this year, down from 275,390 in 2022. It is the first fall since 2018, but the number is still higher than before COVID. The drop in the number of acceptances comes after overall applications from UK 18-year-olds declined this year – from 323,290 in 2022 to 318,390 in 2023.
Full report on the BBC site