There has been a demographic dip in the population of 18-year-olds in the UK in recent years, but the proportion of school leavers applying to university has increased.
In England 38.8 per cent of the 18-year-old population applied, a 1.4 percentage point increase on the application rate at this time in 2018.
Clare Marchant, Ucas chief executive, said: “In this time of uncertainty, it’s welcome news to see more EU and international students wanting to come and study in the UK.
“Alongside this, demand from UK 18-year-old students remains strong, despite the falling numbers of this age group in the population.
“The unexpected rise in the application rate from English 18-year-olds, against the population trend, signals they still recognise the challenge and rewards of full-time undergraduate study.”
The number of applicants from China increased by a third this year, rising from 11,915 to 15,880. This follows an increase of 20.6 per cent last year, and brings Chinese applicant numbers to almost the same level as those from either Wales or Northern Ireland, at 18,855 and 17,910 respectively.
The number of applicants from the European Union increased by one per cent, to 43,890. Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said that while it “great news” that international students want to come and study in the UK, he added that the data does not give a full picture since not all overseas students apply using Ucas.
“The UK is not keeping pace with other major study destinations such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada,” he said.
“We are calling for a new graduate visa that will make the UK more attractive to international students, allowing a wider range of employers, in all parts of the UK, to benefit from access to talented graduates from around the world.”