A record number of UK 18-year-olds have secured a place at university or college through Clearing, new UCAS data shows.
Posted Thu 21 September 2023 - 00:01

UCAS has today released 2023 applicant data 28 days after results day on 17 August 2023. A record number of UK 18-year-olds have secured a place using Clearing - 38,140, up from 33,280 (+14.6%) in 2022 when exams were re-introduced and 33,000 (+15.6%) in 2019, the last time grading arrangements were the same.

Today’s figures indicate growing numbers of students that have been placed at their firm choice are using Clearing to secure a new choice or university/college. In total, 16,040 UK 18 year old applicants found a new course after releasing themselves from a previously held choice. This compares to 14,760 in 2022, and 12,170 in 2019.

In total, 67,990 students have found a place using Clearing. Of these:

  • 32% found a place after declining their original firm choice– this is the largest single pool.
  • 30% found a place after not meeting the terms of their offer and being released into Clearing on results day.
  • The remainder either applied directly into Clearing or held no firm choice.

Other key headlines include:

  • Overall, 270,350 UK 18-year-old students have been accepted onto a course, down from 275,390 (-1.8%) in 2022 and up from 239,460 (+12.9%) in 2019.
  • This year, the number of 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in the UK (POLAR 4 Quintile 1) to be accepted is 31,090, slightly down from 2022 (31,900) but up from 2019 (26,010 – +19.5%).
  • In total, 50,860 international students from outside the EU (all ages, all domiciles) have been accepted – compared to 51,290 last year (-0.9%) and 40,720 (+25%) in 2019. The top two countries with accepted applicants are China (15,180 in 2023, down from 16,720 in 2022) and India (4,960 in 2023, up from 4,400 in 2022). The total number of students from the EU placed in 2023 is 10,610, down from 10,910 in 2022, and 30,040 in 2019.
  • This year, 1,350 T-level students have applied through UCAS - 1,100 (82%) of these students have gained a place, which is similar to last year, the first year T-levels were introduced.

Sander Kristel, Interim CEO at UCAS said: “In the past, Clearing was perceived as just being a process to support students that didn’t meet their offer to get a place at a remaining course. This couldn’t be further from the truth – this year we saw a record number of students secure a place at one of the 30,000 courses available. We’ve also seen record numbers of students exercising choice later in the cycle, revisiting their options for a range of reasons personal to them. We also know from our survey that over nine in 10 students are confident they’ve made the right choice.

“Today’s numbers show the continuing attraction of UK higher education across the globe, and also a return to normal growth following the surge of demand seen during the pandemic. For me, today’s numbers show that we need to continue our collective efforts in closing the gap in participation for those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Clearing remains open until 17 October so there is still plenty of time and choice available to students, with over 23,000 Clearing courses and over 8,000 apprenticeship opportunities available. The UCAS team is still on hand via the phones, on social media or on ucas.com to help, advise and guide any students who are still exploring their options.”

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Notes for editors
About UCAS

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education.

Our services support young people making post-18 choices, as well as mature learners, by providing information, advice, and guidance to inspire and facilitate educational progression to university, college, or an apprenticeship.

We support 1.5 million students every year to explore entering higher education, employment and apprenticeships and manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

We also provide a wide range of research, consultancy and advisory services to schools, colleges, careers services, professional bodies, and employers, including apprenticeships.

We’re a successful and fast-growing organisation, which helps hundreds of thousands of people every year. We're committed to delivering a first-class service to all our customers — they're at the heart of everything we do.

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