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Reading University sees record number of postgraduate taught applications

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The University of Reading has had its third highest ever annual total of undergraduate applications, according to figures published today.

The University had 20,185 applications for full-time undergraduate courses at the UCAS 15th January ‘on time’ deadline for entry in 2017, representing five applications per place across the 250 available courses.

Overall, the University has consolidated its major rise two years ago, despite a 1% decline in the UK 18 year old population this year and early signs of the impact of the EU referendum result. Following record numbers in 2015 and 2016, the overall trend remains upwards.

  • Since 2014, applications have risen 9%, compared to a decrease of 3% nationally.
  • In the five years since £9,000 a year tuition fees were introduced, applications have risen 8% against a sector increase of just 6%.
  • In 2015 there was a 21% increase in applications, and the highest ever number of undergraduate applications. This was the first year the University rolled out a national advertising campaign.
  • From 2010 to 2015, applications grew from 16,488 to 22,183 – a rise of 5,695.

Reading has one of the fastest rates of growth nationally in applicants going on to put it a first choice. According to figures published last week, 15% of applicants accepted unconditional firm offers for 2016 entry, representing a 9% increase year-on-year. In addition, higher education blog WonkHE stated that Reading was the 12th highest UK institution to significantly grow 18 year old acceptances from 2012-15 and continued to do so in 2016 – a 14% increase.

Reading puts this growth down to more targeted, multi-channel engagement with prospects, its sector-leading Open Days and its newly introduced guaranteed one grade drop for firm acceptance scheme, which was rolled out across the some undergraduate programmes last year. Early indications show that Reading is on course to maintain its application to acceptance rate for 2017.

The latest 2017/18 full-time undergraduate ‘on time’ applications at the 15th January UCAS deadline show:

  • 20,185 total home, EU and non-EU full-time undergraduate applications for 2017/18 entry – nearly five applications per place. This represents a 9% increase compared to this point in 2014. Year-on year, there has been a 6% dip since the record number of applications in 2015. Applications for 2017 entry are down 5% nationally, compared to last year.
  • 17,882 Home/EU applications – the third highest ever total, despite a 6% decrease on this point last year. Nationally, there has been a 5% drop in Home/EU applications.
  • 1,155 EU applications – representing a have 10% decline. Nationally, there has been a 7% drop in EU applications.
  • 2,154 overseas (non-EU) applications – down 5% compared to -0.2% nationally. Overall, the University has seen equally steady growth in non-EU applications with a 40% rise in overseas (non-EU) applications since 2012.
  • Following the opening of the School of Architecture in September 2016, applications for 2017 entry are up 50%.
  • The strongest year-on-year applications by subject area include: Typography, Italian, Spanish, Accounting, Real Estate and Planning, Architecture and Construction Management.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading said: “The latest UCAS figures show that Reading has once again maintained its high number of undergraduate applications. We saw a dramatic increase in 2015, but we were never going to maintain that sort of increase year-on-year, especially given the falling numbers of UK 18 year olds and fewer applications from older students.

“Overall, we have seen a steady upward trend in the last five years, despite the introduction of higher tuition fees. Furthermore, we have seen a sharp rise over the last three years, where we are way ahead of the national figures.

“There is no denying it is a tough market for all UK universities at the moment. Universities are expanding so competition is fierce. Students have more choice than ever before and they are shopping around for the best deal.

“It is encouraging to see that a rising proportion of high quality students applying to Reading are putting us as their firm first choice. Reading is no longer seen as the insurance option. Students want great teaching, world-class research, an award-winning campus and a high employability record – all things they can find here. This doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels though. We must continue to be innovative in our efforts to attract the brightest and best students.”

On the impact of Brexit, the Government only announced in October 2016 that EU students applying for UK university places in the 2017/18 academic year would still have access to funding support, and that tuition fees would be capped at the same rate as for UK students. At the same time, it also confirmed that their eligibility for this funding would not change, even if Britain exits the EU during the period of their study. EU applications have declined by 7% nationally for 2017 entry, whereas previous years had shown growth.

Sir David said: “The late announcement from the Government on the loan status for EU applicants undoubtedly had a serious effect on students choosing to study in the UK, as evidenced by the fall in applications from EU students across the sector. This has meant that we are now seeing increased competition from overseas universities.”

Postgraduate Taught applications

This year, Reading has seen a 26% increase year-on-year in the number of applications for postgraduate taught programmes. This is largely due to the number of overseas (non-EU) students applying, where Reading has seen a 29% increase – bringing the total overseas applications to 7,664.

Popular courses this year include: Accounting, International Business and Management, English Language, English Literature, the Graduate Institute of International Development and Applied Economics, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Psychology, Construction Management and Meteorology.

Sir David said: “It is good to see such a large increase in the number of applications for postgraduate taught programmes here at Reading. As an internationally renowned institution and one of the UK’s leading research-based universities, the University of Reading is the ideal place for postgraduate study.

“We have seen a sharp rise in the numbers of overseas (non-EU) students, potentially caused by the weakened pound, which fell dramatically in value after the EU referendum. Students may be taking advantage of the opportunity to study in a worldwide top one per cent university whilst they can get good value for money. Whatever the reason, we are ready to welcome them to our already thriving community of more than 5,000 international students.”