This end-of-cycle data for last academic year presents sector and institution-level data resources in an interactive dashboard. It allows institutions to tailor the reporting to their own specifications. The resources show figures on applications, acceptances and offers across individual institutions, subjects, student characteristics, university types and geographical areas and allows yearly comparisons.
- UCAS data for the 2022 undergraduate cycle shows a slight increase in overall acceptances on the previous year (562,060 to 563,175) and a jump of 4 per cent on the 2019 total
- Acceptances of UK-domiciled applicants dropped by 2,645, due to a decrease in acceptances in the 19 to 29 age brackets
- The number of international acceptances rose from 70,055 in 2021 to 73,820 in 2022, although this was down on the 2019 total of 76,905
- Acceptances by subject show the biggest growth in computing, up from 26,570 to 29,200 (2019 figure was 25,445) and business and management (66,380 rising to 71,240). Despite negative publicity around lower graduate employment rates, numbers in design, creative and performing arts also rose from 46,800 to 47,320
- Medicine and allied subjects acceptance numbers dropped marginally but were up on the 2019 figure
- Higher tariff university recruitment was down slightly on the “bumper crop” of 2021, from 138,185 to 123,575, but the 2022 figure was still up on 2019 (114,980). Lower tariff acceptances increased from 198,605 to 207,095 (figure for 2019 was 199,140). Medium tariff recruitment also grew (155,215 rising to 158,685) and was up 6 per cent on the 2019 figure
- There was little movement in international recruitment to higher tariff institutions between 2021 and 2022 (around 38,400). Lower tariff saw a slight increase from 14,665 to 17,721 (2019 figure was 15,785). Recruitment from overseas also increased slightly at medium tariff institutions from 16,925 to 17,615, though this was still 20 per cent down on the 2019 total of 22,145
- The number of students to be accepted who declared a disability rose from 66,960 to 77,265 in 2022, well above the 2019 figure of 58,280. The 2022 figure includes 22,450 students with mental health problems, a category that has been on a significant upward trajectory over the last two decades (the figure self-declaring in 2013 was just 3,345)
- Acceptances by POLAR4 saw a rise in the number of acceptances from areas with the lowest HE participation from 30,910 to 32,420 (the 2019 figure was 26,540). All other categories saw a slight rise, apart from quintile 5 (areas with the highest level of participation) which saw a slight drop from 89,880 in 2021 to 88,945 (the 2019 figure was 78,680)
- Acceptances by ethnicity show increases in all categories, apart from White and Unknown. The number of acceptances for Black 18-year-olds rose by 11 per cent from 2021 to 2022.
Implications for governance:
After the turmoil and uncertainty of the pandemic years, the 2022 admissions cycle was certainly smoother, thanks in large part to sixth formers sitting exams and steps taken by the regulator to rein in grade inflation.
The UCAS figures show an across–the-board rise of 4 per cent, with undergraduate recruitment to UK institutions reaching a record new high. Across the nations of the UK, England and Wales saw numbers rise, while Scotland and Northern Ireland had small falls in acceptances.
UK-domicile recruitment to higher tariff universities, where a student numbers boom in 2021 caused space and accommodation issues for some, was down slightly but still up on the pre-Covid figure. Lower and medium tariff institutions both saw rises.
The data also suggests that some higher tariff providers have been aiming for a more managed level of growth, balancing recruitment with more student support in order to maintain high retention levels.
International recruitment also held its own across the sector, with higher tariff universities maintaining their 2021 totals. There were also slight increases in lower and medium tariff overseas acceptances, although at the latter, there is still ground to make up to reach the 2019 total. International recruitment and its strategic implications, not least on finance, is an area of great interest for governing boards and committees.
Further analysis of the data reveals how different groups of students fared in the recruitment round. Governing bodies might want to look more closely at their own institutional data to see if they have similar patterns.
The worrying downward trajectory of mature student numbers has continued, with falls in the 19 to 29 age groups. While many universities are linking more closely with further education colleges and expanding apprenticeship opportunities, this work has yet to be reflected in mature admissions. There are implications for governors to consider when addressing approaches to widening access and commitments in their institutional Access and Participation Plans or fee and Access Plans where appropriate.
Governors will be interested in the trends in subject choice, such as increased demand for computing. Acceptances in the subject area are up 15 per cent on the 2019 figure. Business and management recruitment has grown by 8 per cent despite Office for Student concerns about lower graduate-level employment rates in the subject at some universities. Negative publicity around poorer outcomes for graduates in design, creative and performing arts (and the 50 per cent cut to per-student funding for creative and performing arts degrees) also seems to have had little impact on student choice, with acceptances rising slightly.
The Covid-related boost for health subjects appears to have levelled off, with a fall in numbers for medicine and allied subjects, although they are still above the 2019 levels.
The UCAS data is positive news for widening access teams with a rise in numbers from the lowest participation areas (POLAR4 quintiles 1 and 2), perhaps somewhat counterbalanced by a slight drop in acceptances of students from the most affluent areas.
There may be some resource implications arising from the increase in students declaring a disability. Disclosures increased from 66,960 in 2021 to 77,265 in 2022, well above the 2019 figure of 58,280. The 2022 figure includes 22,450 students with mental health problems, a category that has been on a significant upward trajectory over the last two decades. Disability and mental health support is an area of interest for governors, not least because of the associated reputational risk, and they may want to keep abreast of institutional-level data and the executive response.
Universities have significantly rowed back on the use of “conditional unconditional” offers following government action to limit them. However, there was a hiatus between the end of the ban and the introduction of a Universities UK code of practice ending their use. In its notes, UCAS points out that one university made conditional unconditional offers to around 1,445 applicants. A further 2,800 offers made by the university that were initially regarded as “conditional unconditional” have been reclassified by UCAS as “unconditional”. Given the UUK code, 2023 may be the last time we see “conditional unconditional” offers being made.
Meanwhile, the case appears to be strengthening for governors to have better access to data and more strategic oversight on the implications of developing trends, in light of notable growth recorded by UCAS in acceptances of Black students, those declaring a disability, and those from areas with low HE participation, as well taking account of the relative popularity of different subjects.
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