Belfast Telegraph

Over a third of Northern Ireland students successful in gaining university place

By Rebecca Black and PA

Northern Ireland has one of the highest university entry rates in the UK, new figures from Ucas have revealed.

The highest regional rate was in London where some 41.8% of 18-year-olds were accepted on to degree courses.

Next was Northern Ireland in second place with an acceptance rate of 34.5% - well ahead of Wales (29.4%) and Scotland (25.9%) - although Ucas does not record all higher education in Scotland.

London was also well ahead of other areas of England.

The figures for the other English regions were: North East, 30.3%; North West, 32.9%; Yorkshire and the Humber, 31.6%; East Midlands, 30.3%; West Midlands, 31.6% and the East of England 32.9%.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) is the organisation that operates the application process for British universities.

Many students in Northern Ireland also apply to study at universities in the Republic of Ireland via the Irish Central Applications Office (CAO).

Ucas said the statistics indicate that a school leaver's chances of going to university depend heavily on where they live.

Chief executive Clare Marchant said: "A common theme to emerge from our analysis of data from the 2017 cycle is that the entry rate of 18-year-olds to higher education has increased across all parts of the UK.

"This trend is most pronounced in London. There have been significant and much documented improvements to secondary education in the capital. Understanding how to replicate this high level of attainment could help drive increases in entry rates elsewhere."

In July, Ucas revealed a drop in the number of people who had applied to UK universities for the 2016/17 academic year - to 649,700 compared with 674,890 in the previous year.

In Northern Ireland the number of applicants dropped by 4% from 21,110 to 20,290. The drop was similar in England (5%) and Wales (5%), while in Scotland the number dropped by only 1%.

Applications from EU students also fell from 51,850 in 2016 to 49,250. However, applicants from overseas countries outside of the European Union were up from 69,300 in 2016 to 70,830.

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