Monday, 30 January 2012

The REAL statistics on University Admissions

Reports on the BBC today stated that there had been a drop in university applications in England of around 9%.

This is presumably based on data from UCAS.

But if you go to the Media Releases part of the site, you will be able to see that the notes of the press releases state that:

"One way to measure demand for higher education is through application rates. These report the number of applicants from a group divided by the size of that group in the population. The advantage of application rates (in this case of young people) is that they show trends in this measure of demand without being affected by year to year changes in the population size. This is important as changes in the population size can have a substantial effect on applicant numbers, often as large as any change in application rate."
(bold on original UCAS text)

Helpfully, they also provide this data, a small portion of which is shown on the graph below :

You can see that the drop in application rate in England has only dropped slightly, by perhaps 1 percentage point (or about 3%), not the 9% stated in news reports.

The implied impression from news reports (to BFTF at any rate) was that there was a higher takeup in Scotland, becuase of they had no fees. As you can see, this is not the case.

And why did no one big-up the sterling performance of students in Northern Ireland?


  1. I can't take someone who doesn't know the difference between percentages and percentage points seriously.

  2. Slightly harshly put, but quite right. I have amended accordingly. Please do not hesitate to let me know if I have made any other errors.