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Higher Education

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 20 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many applicants aged (a) 21 to 25 and (b) over 25 had applied for courses in higher education institutions in (i) 2003-04, (ii) 2004-05, (iii) 2005-06 and (iv) 2006-07 in the April before the start of each academic year; and what the percentage change was in each year. (76271)

The available figures are shown in the table. They are taken from press releases issued by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) in April each year which summarise applicant numbers as at 24 March, for each of the age bands of under 21 years, 21-24 years, and over 24 years. The figures reinforce our view that the long-term trend of increasing university applications will continue. There was a larger than expected increase in the number of applicants for entry in 2005 and although the number of applicants for 2006 are down compared to 2005, they are above the numbers for 2004 entry. We experienced a similar dip in applications in 1998 when tuition fees were introduced, but numbers returned to their usual levels the following year and continued upwards thereafter. We expect this to be the trend going forward.

English-domiciled applicants by 24 March of each year, by age

2003

2004

2005

2006

Under 21

Number

240,417

243,710

263,856

253,439

Percentage change

+1.4

+8.3

-3.9

21-25

Number

23,295

23,776

26,248

25,317

Percentage change

+2.1

+10.4

-3.5

Over 24

Number

24,683

25,821

29,452

27,868

Percentage change

+4.6

+14.1

-5.4

Total

Number

288,395

293,307

319,556

306,624

Percentage change

+1.7

+8.9

-4.0

Source: Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) Press Releases.