The latest figures published by University and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS) indicate that the number of EU students applying to UK universities is on the rise, whilst the number of home applicants is falling.

Of the 593,720 would-be undergraduates who have applied to commence studying in the UK this autumn, 45,220 are EU residents. This figure has risen by six per cent since last year.

This comes amidst increasing fears that EU students are “disappearing” by simply returning to their home countries upon graduating, where they are more difficult to track, and subsequently avoiding repayment of their student loans.

Though the total number of applicants wishing to start degree courses in autumn 2016 is 0.2 per cent higher than in 2015, an analysis of the data shows that the number of UK applicants has fallen by 0.3 per cent.

This corresponds with a drop in the number of young people currently attending sixth form (or a further education equivalent), with the population of sixth formers expected to decline again next year. Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS chief executive, said:

“Our report shows further growth in demand for higher education, but the declining 18-year-old population and a decrease in older applicants means the actual number of UK applicants available for universities to recruit remains flat.”

Whilst the number of Scottish and Welsh applicants rose by one per cent and the number of Northern Irish would-be undergraduates increased by two per cent, there was a one per cent fall in the number of English applicants, accounting for the overall drop in home applicants for the 2016 cycle.

The statistics also indicate that women are more likely than men to apply to university, with young women in England now 36 per cent more likely to apply.

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