9% fall in EU applications to UK universities after Brexit vote

Posted On: 
27th October 2016

EU applications for places on prestigious university courses plummeted 9% compared to last year, Ucas has revealed. 

University students graduating
Credit: 
PA Images

The admissions watchdog suggested that the Government’s late guarantee of the financial support arrangements for EU students may have contributed to the drop.

The figures apply to the October Ucas deadline, which covers applications to Oxford and Cambridge, and for veterinary, dentistry and medicine courses.

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Overall, the number of applicants increased 1%, but there were 620 fewer from the EU – the first drop in recent years.

The Government said it was “too early” to draw conclusions from the figures, and that the picture would become clearer after the January applications deadline, which covers the majority of higher education courses.

But the sharp fall will give ammunition to those who warned that the Brexit vote could damage the UK’s universities sector.

The Government only gave assurances to EU students in mid-October that they would be entitled to the same funding arrangements as UK nationals for courses starting in 2017, shortly before the deadline covered in the figures today.

Mary Curnock Cook, Ucas’ chief executive, suggested the late announcement may have contributed to the figures.

“This is an encouraging increase in applicants to the October deadline courses, particularly given the 2% decrease in the 18-year-old population,” she said.

“We will be watching the numbers of EU applications in the run up to the January deadline, especially now that the Government has confirmed arrangements for continuing access to student loans for 2017 courses.”

A government spokesperson said: “It is too early in the application cycle to predict reliable trends. But the overall increase in applicant numbers is positive – and suggests even more students will be able to benefit from higher education next year.”

The number of people applying for medical courses fell by 4%, the third consecutive annual decline.

There was a 1% rise in non-EU nationals applying for the courses, along with a 3% increase in UK applications.