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Demand Remains Resilient at Higher Tariff Providers

Posted by Richard Ward in

The latest data from UCAS, released on A-Level results day, shows continued market resilience in the face of Covid-19 with acceptances from UK and non-EU domiciled students up year-on-year.

StuRents will be monitoring the data closely, which will continue to evolve over the coming days, however, the number of placed students from the UK increased by 2.9% in 2020 to 358,870. Growth was also reported in acceptances from non-EU students, which increased by 2.0% to 34,310.

Whilst EU (ex-UK) domiciled students equated to just 5.4% of the total, numbers collapsed by 15.2% year-on-year to 22,430. This fall even surpasses the decline of 13.6% reported in 2012.

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Source: UCAS

Of those countries outside the EU, placed students from China rose by 14.4% year-on-year to 8,570. Meanwhile, Indian students and those from Hong Kong grew by 10.3% and 11.0% respectively. Although growth in Chinese students will be particularly welcomed by the PBSA sector, the figures suggest a substantial slowdown in the pace of growth, compared to 2019 when they rose by 31.9%.

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Source: UCAS

Whilst acceptance growth has been positive at a national level, with the total number of placed students increasing by 1.6% in 2020, the flight to quality trend that was already apparent has been exacerbated this year.

Higher tariff providers performed considerably better across the board. For example, acceptances by non-EU domiciled students at higher tariff institutions grew by 7.1% but declined by 6.3% at lower tariff institutions and fell by 8.3% at those deemed as medium tariff providers.

Similarly, placed students from the UK rose by 6.9% at the most prestigious institutions but grew by just 0.9% at medium tariff providers and by 1.5% at the lowest tariff universities. Although EU (ex-UK) numbers declined across all groups, higher tariff providers reported a smaller year-on-year decline of 6.1%.

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Source: UCAS

Whilst national figures remain positive for the industry and will grab the headlines this week, they hide underlying challenges for secondary and tertiary markets due to the continued flight to quality trend.