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Student Accommodation Research: UCAS Data Update

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

The latest data released by UCAS 28 days after JCQ results day points to continued market growth, with increased numbers from key demographics.

Key findings:

  • Total acceptances are down by 1.0% due to falls in EU numbers and mature students
  • The number of acceptances from 18-year-old students continued to rise, jumping by 1.4%
  • Acceptances from Chinese students jumped by 22.7% year-on-year
  • Over the long-term higher tariff providers have outperformed

    The most recent data available from UCAS points to a slight decline in the total number of accepted students 28 days after results day. There were 1.0% fewer acceptances compared to the year before, however, numbers were up by 1.4% compared to pre-Covid levels (2019).

    Whilst numbers were down year-on-year, the fall was largely attributed to a reduction in the number of mature students, with those aged 21 or over down by 9.8%. More positively, the number of acceptances from 18-year-olds was up by 1.4%, following a jump of 5.0% in the previous year.

    The pandemic undoubtedly impacted the number of older students choosing to enter higher education, with a lack of employment opportunities and continued pandemic uncertainty likely to have inflated the figures.

    Figure 1.0 below highlights that over the long-term, yearly acceptances from 18-year-olds have been trending upwards, which is only likely to continue given the rebound in this demographic.

    Figure 1: Growth in Yearly Acceptances by Age Group
    Acceptance growth by age max-width:100 height=

    Source: UCAS

    The number of yearly acceptances from EU-based students has continued to fall following Brexit, with numbers down by 13.9%. Those from UK students also declined, falling by 1.5%, albeit this was entirely attributed to the reduction of (11.3%) in students aged 21 or over.

    More positively, acceptances from non-EU/UK students rose by a further 9.5%, following a jump of 5.1% in 2021.

    Figure 2.0: YoY Growth in Yearly Acceptances by Domicile
    Acceptance growth by Domicile max-width:100 height=

    Source: UCAS

    Isolating acceptances from Chinese students, numbers jumped by a massive 22.7%, whilst those from Indian students grew by 7.6%. Interestingly, the pace of growth in acceptances from Indian students was down significantly compared to the increase of 29.8% reported in the previous year.

    With this year the first since the onset of the pandemic that students have had to sit exams, the UCAS data shows a shift in the distribution of acceptances by tariff provider.

    Prior to Covid, higher tariff providers had consistently outperformed the market, growing at a faster pace than those deemed as medium and lower. During Covid, this trend was exacerbated, resulting in a 12.1% jump in 2020.

    However, this arguably led to some institutions over-recruiting and this year, 28-days after results day, there have been 7.7% fewer acceptances at these providers. Conversely, with some students not receiving the grades they required, medium and lower tariff providers have performed better, recording growth of 2.3% and 2.9% respectively.

    Figure 3.0: YoY Growth in Yearly Acceptances by Tariff Provider

    Acceptance growth by Domicile max-width:100 height=

    Source: UCAS

    It was a similar story for acceptances by non-EU/UK students. Higher tariff providers reported growth of 5.5%, whilst lower tariff providers saw numbers jump by 22.8% year-on-year. Whilst growth at the less prestigious universities has been greater this year, the long-term trend still very much favours the higher tariff providers.

    This year, yearly acceptances in non-EU/UK students were 76.9% higher than in 2013 at more than 33k. In comparison, medium tariff providers have seen numbers grow by 32.8% over the same period, whilst lower tariff providers have grown by 18.8%. Therefore, whilst the pace of growth has been stronger this year, at these lower tariff institutions, the absolute numbers remain a fraction of the total.

    Figure 4.0: Growth in Yearly Acceptances by Tariff Provider

    Acceptance growth by Tariff max-width:100 height=

    Source: UCAS

    The last few years have been far from ordinary, but demand has held up well, reflecting the continued attractiveness of the UK higher education sector. Whilst there are likely to be individual winners and losers in the years ahead, overall the industry is likely to witness record demand. As we have seen this year, in certain locations it could result in a scramble to find accommodation, with early house hunting becoming a necessity.