Russell Group response to latest UCAS figures

23 April 2008

Director General of The Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt, said:

“The Russell Group of Universities welcomes the UCAS figures released today which show the continued rise in applicants to UK universities. The figures show a significant increase (5.5%) in undergraduate applications from this point last year (and if nursing applications are included, this figure rises to 7.8%). The largest increase comes from English domiciled applicants (9.4% increase).

“Russell Group universities are deeply committed to ensuring that talented students from every background have the chance to benefit from a degree. We are encouraged by the rise of applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds amongst under 18 year-olds (7.2% overall, 9.0% in England and 0.7% in Scotland)*. We are also delighted that the percentage of mature English students, age 25 and over, also rose by almost a quarter.

“We recognise that there is a great deal of work that still needs to be done. We have dramatically increased the amount of money committed to outreach and widening participation. Much of these resources have been devoted to raising aspirations and informing students about higher education – from young children to mature learners – even though these programmes do not directly benefit our universities as many pupils who receive this help apply elsewhere.

“The Russell Group maintains its clear commitment to both excellence and equity through the provision of world-class education, research and innovation.”

* There would have been a greater rise in the proportion of applicants from low-income backgrounds had UCAS continued to calculate these figures based on under 21 year-olds.

Notes to Editors

  1. Applicants in England: Overall, higher education institutions in England saw an overall rise of 8.3% in the number of applicants, compared to 0.7% in Scotland.
  2. Mature students: The percent of mature English applicants increased by 22.2% from this point last year, despite falling by 0.9% in Scotland.
  3. Lower socio-economic background: The proportion of applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds increased in England from 28.7% from this point last year to 29.6% in 2008 and in the UK to 29.9% from 29.2% last year.


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