Cambridge applications rising as UCAS reaches record high

Rachel Balmer 6 February 2014

Applications to UK universities have risen this year by 4% to record levels, with applications to the University of Cambridge also on the rise.

UCAS reported that it received 580,000 applications to Higher Education courses in the 2013–14 cycle. 35% of 18-year-olds living in England applied, marking the highest application rates ever seen for this age group.

Cambridge, too, saw a 4% increase on last year’s figures, with 16,500 applicants. The University attributed the figures to “extensive outreach work” and “a high-profile commitment to fair admissions.” 

Mike Sewell, Director of Admissions for the Cambridge colleges, told BBC News: “It is great to see a record number of students who feel confident that they will be competitive applicants to Cambridge.”

The results suggest that the rise in tuition fees has not been a major deterrent for future students.

However, the statistics also reveal a national gender disparity, with 87,000 more female than male applicants. Mary Curnock Cook, CEO of UCAS, has expressed concern that men are becoming an underperforming “disadvantaged group”.

Yet Cambridge did see a decrease in the number of applications for Modern and Medieval Languages. This was reflected nationally, with  a 5% drop in applications for European Languages.

Computer Science has seen the greatest national increase since last year, and Cambridge saw an  8% increase in applications.

The situation for mature students is more complex. Dr Emily Tomlinson, Admissions Tutor at Lucy Cavendish, said: “Whilst the overall number of applications to UCAS is up, the mature student ‘market’ has been slower to recover from the impact of the £9,000 tuition fee, and evidence from UCAS suggests that British students over 20 are increasingly opting to study at their local university.

“At Lucy Cavendish, we have seen some growth in the total number of applications… [but] applications for ‘traditional’ non-vocational degree courses requiring significant prior study in the subject have flatlined.”