UCAS reported that applicants from the EU increased by 3.4% to 43,510, up from 42,070 in 2017. Meanwhile, the number of non-EU applicants increased by 11% on the 2017 figure of 52,630.
“UK higher education continues to be a highly popular choice”
The figures came from an analysis of applications processed by UCAS ahead of the January 2018 deadline and is recognised as the first reliable indicator of changes in demand for higher education in the UK.
However, the increased interest from non-UK domiciled students has failed to make up for falling demand from some age groups.
Overall, there was a 0.9% reduction in the total number (559,000) applying compared to 2017.
This figure reflects a 2.5% fall in the 18-year-old population in the UK and falling demand from 19-year-olds and the 25+ age groups.
Applications from all age groups to nursing courses in England were also shown to have fallen by 13%.
Difference between 2018 and 2017 cycle. Image: UCAS
UCAS’ chief executive Clare Marchant said the figures show that “UK higher education continues to be a highly popular choice” and attracts students of all ages from around the world.
However, she added that the application data also highlights continuing falls in demand from older students and to nursing courses in England.
“These are challenges for everyone involved in higher education to work on together. We must continually seek to evaluate what works well, and what doesn’t,” she said.
“It’s also important to remember that most universities and colleges are still open for applications, and students can still make application choices via UCAS until 30 June.”
According to the 2017 UCAS End of Cycle Report, applications for undergraduate study from non-EU applicants reached 76,380, the highest on record for this group.