Press release

MillionPlus comment on the UCAS March deadline figures

05 Apr 2018

MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, has today (5 April) commented on the UCAS Undergraduate application figures made by the 24 March deadline.

Dr Greg Walker, Chief Executive of MillionPlus, said:

“While it is welcome that the proportion of 18-year-olds applying to university is at its highest ever level and that demand for higher education remains strong across the UK, these latest figures show a continued decline in applications from mature students in England, with 10% fewer aged 25 and over compared to this point last year.

“The figures also show a 10% decline in nursing applications, with numbers continuing to fall since the abolition of NHS bursaries in England. There is a clear relationship between these two statistics, with nursing applicants accounting for around one sixth of all mature applicants.

“As our recent report on mature students makes clear, addressing the decline in their numbers must be a key priority for policymakers. Mature learners represent a huge pool of untapped potential across the UK. In order to meet the challenges we face today – relating to fairness, social justice, skills development, or productivity – it is vital that everyone can access educational opportunities.

“With the Office for Students now open for business and the post-18 education review consultation underway, MillionPlus calls on the review panel and the government to make now the time to rocket-boost activity to engage and support mature students.”


Notes to editors

  1. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities. More information can be found at
  2. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 7717 1658 or email
  3. Modern universities: key facts 2017
  4. The MillionPlus research report Forgotten Learners: building a system that works for mature students is available here and outlines key recommendations for government, the Office for Students and universities.
  5. There were 122,060 fewer mature entrants in higher education in England in the 2016/17 academic cycle than there were in 2011/12, a 42% fall in the undergraduate population aged 21 or over.
  6. Between 2009/10 and 2016/17, the number of part-time nursing students over the age of 21 has fallen by 49%