DfE Confirms Tuition Fee Freeze
22nd Jan 2021
The latest data from UCAS shows resilience in the higher education market, despite uncertainties surrounding the outcome of Brexit and continued concerns over affordability.
Data for the 2019-20 academic year shows an impressive 6.9% year-on-year jump in acceptances from non-EU students, up from an increase of 4.9% recorded in the previous year.
Whilst there was a slight decline in acceptances for 2019-20 from EU students (excluding UK) of 0.3%, those from the UK increased by 1.1%.
Although growth in acceptances from domestic students was modest, it reverses the downward trend witnessed in the previous two years, whereby numbers fell by 0.8% (2018) and 0.5% (2017) respectively.
The national story, therefore, remains one of positivity but in recent years, at an institutional level there have been clear winners and losers. Although commentators tend to point towards Russell Group universities as the best performing, this is not necessarily the case, with institutions such as Coventry University and Nottingham Trent performing particularly well.
Fig 1: Year-on-year Growth in Acceptances by Domicile
Looking further ahead, the slight increase in acceptances from UK students for 2019-20 was reported despite a challenging backdrop of a falling 18-year-old population. This is set to bottom out in 2020 before steadily recovering, which could lead to increased demand from UK students (Fig 3).
Furthermore, whilst the rising cost of accommodation is well reported it does not seem to have deterred prospective students. Data from StuRents highlights that the trend for budget growth when house hunting has continued into the latest lettings cycle, with the average budget set between Oct-Nov recorded at £126 pppw, compared to £120 pppw in the same period of 2018.
Fig 2: Average Student House Hunting Budget
Overall, demand fundamentals remain strong for higher education, which is highlighted by the increase in total acceptances for 2019-20 of 1.5%. Long-term this trend is even more apparent, with acceptances between 2012-2019 increasing by 16.4%. Expectations for continued growth in demand will ensure the market as a whole will likely remain on a steady footing, even if certain markets becomes challenging due to an influx in supply.
Fig 3: Acceptance Growth by Domicile (LHS) vs 18-year-old Population Forecasts (RHS)
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