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UCAS End of Cycle Report 2018

31 Jan 2019 | David Williams The Universities and Colleges Application Services (UCAS) has published the final chapters of its End of Cycle report for 2018.

The Universities and Colleges Application Services (UCAS) has published the final chapters of its End of Cycle report for 2018. The information released includes provider data allowing detailed analysis of acceptances by provider, and the benchmarking of institutional performance.

The End of Cycle report offers data as to the recruitment patterns for full-time undergraduate degree courses in the UK for one cycle of entry to higher education providers.

Publication today by UCAS of the final chapters of the End of Cycle report for 2018 includes a detailed data file, which shows acceptances by individual provider. This allows governing bodies to benchmark the performance of their institution against a competitor group. Alongside the detailed data, a Summary of Applicants and Acceptances is also available.

Key Findings

For 2018, the total number of applicants to full-time degree courses fell by 0.6%, with the total number of acceptances (i.e. applicants who have been placed for entry with higher education providers) remaining essentially static (-0.1%). The relationship between the two, known as the acceptance rate, increased, showing UK domiciled students were more likely to be accepted by providers than ever before.

The UCAS data is broken down for the devolved nations (unlike the other devolved nations, Scotland recorded a small increase in acceptances), by age of applicant and by country of residence.

The number of UK domiciled applicants (80.7% of total applicants) fell by 1.9%, while the number from non-EU (+6.5%) and EU countries (+2.8%) grew. The overall fall in applicants means numbers were at the lowest level since 2013. The total number of UK domiciled acceptances was the lowest since 2014.

Using 2018 data and comparative data released for the previous recruitment cycles a time series of acceptances for each provider can be constructed. This enables trends for the sector over, say, a three-year period to be identified and the extent to which individual providers are maintaining, improving or weakening their position with regard to applications and acceptances to be identified.

Individual provider data shows marked variation in the changes to the number of acceptances across institutions for both a one- and three-year period. Individual institutions in each of the mission groups showed significant differences in performance. While some institutions continue to grow their student intake, others reflecting either student choice or because of a deliberate policy to reduce numbers experienced lower enrolments.

Interrogation of the detailed data offers clues as to the success or otherwise of institutional strategies and raises questions as to the possible role of other factors, for example, geographical location in recruitment.

For those who want to keep up-to-date with change happening in the sector, our Toolkit for Governors will take place 7 March 2019. For those particularly interested in HE Governance in Scotland, and how this differs from other nations, our event Governance in Scotland: What's changing? offers an opportunity for governors from Scottish institutions to examine some of the distinctive features of the Scottish higher education system and the evolution of governance. 

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