Higher Education in the UK - some key facts

The video presented a sample of facts about UK higher education. We are now going to look at some figures for admissions to UK higher education in 2015 which give more insight:

1. Over half of applicants received four or more offers and almost a third had five offers to choose between. Applicants were 52% more likely to have five offers in 2015 than in 2011.

2. 18-year old English applicants were at least 98% likely to get an offer if they made five choices - and that is over a wide range of predicted grades.

3. The majority of applicants were placed at their preferred ‘first’ choice.

4. Most applicants to higher education were aged 17 to 19 years old, but more than 240,000 applicants were 20 or over.

5. A levels are the most widely held qualification amongst UK 18 year olds starting university, with around two-thirds of them holding A levels in 2015. Of the total UK population of 18 year olds (which is around 700,000 young people) one fifth entered higher education with A levels as their main qualification.

6. An increasing proportion of young people held a combination of A levels and BTECs. In 2015 2.3% of UK 18 year olds entered HE holding a combination of A levels and BTECs - this is 3.8 times the entry rate in 2008. In addition, almost 1 in 20 UK 18 year olds entered higher education holding BTECs as their main qualification.

7. Relatively few young people enter higher education holding the International Baccalaureate (IB). In 2015, the entry rate for UK 18 year olds entering higher education holding the International Baccalaureate (IB) was 0.3 per cent, just over 2,000 acceptances. However, the acceptance rate for applicants holding the IB (the proportion of applicants who have a place at the end of the cycle ) was 86.4% - lower than the A level only group, but higher than the A level and BTEC group.

8. Acceptances reached new highs at all types of higher education provider (universities and colleges).

9. Young women were 35% more likely to enter higher education than men - the highest difference recorded. The entry rate to higher education for women is increasing three times faster than for men.

10. More international applicants were accepted - an increase of 11% to 29,300 for applicants from the EU and an increase of 1.9% to 39,300 for applicants outside the EU. Applicants living in France had the largest number of acceptances - 3,050 in 2015. Other countries with a large number of acceptances were Italy, Romania and Ireland, each with over 2,000 accepted applicants to UK higher education in 2015.

What does this mean for your students?

Here are a few points to consider:

  • Learners looking to apply for 2017 could afford to be even more ambitious in at least some of their applications because they have a good chance of getting offers from several universities. For instance,they could consider including applications to a university or course which sets more demanding entry requirements or which is more competitive.

  • Participation in higher education is growing and expanding - with more students holding a range of qualifications, levels of attainment and from disadvantaged areas. Higher education has got a lot to offer all young people. It is not simply for those predicted top grades in academic subjects. We will be looking at the different pathways to higher education in later course steps.

  • There are a vast array of subjects and courses to choose from. We will be exploring this further in other steps.

There is more information in the downloads section and links at the bottom of this page which you may find useful further reading if you wish to explore this topic further.

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Smart Advice: Broadening Your Students’ Horizons