Number of students applying to Welsh universities falls again

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Image caption Universities Wales says the drop in applications is due to fewer 18-year-olds

Applications to universities in Wales have fallen again, early figures from admissions service Ucas have suggested.

The drop of 2.5% in the past 12 months included a 10% dip in EU applicants.

Universities Wales said falling numbers were happening against a backdrop of a 2.3% drop in the number of 18-year-olds in the population.

It said the figures - for those starting university in September - did not reflect the rise in part-time students.

Across the UK there was a 0.4% increase in applicants, though applicants from within the UK were down.

Students living in Wales make up just over 24% of all applicants to its universities.

However, Welsh universities did see an increase of 6% in non-EU international students applying for courses.

The figures also show the application rate for Welsh eighteen-year-olds to all universities through UCAS was up slightly - 0.2% - to 32.2%.

Universities Wales said: "In previous years, the figures for Welsh universities have increased between the January application figures and enrolments.

"These figures also do not reflect a key feature of the Welsh higher education landscape which is our emphasis on non-traditional routes into higher education such as part-time study".

Last week, the Welsh Government said separate figures showed a "massive increase" in applications from part-time students - which are not included in Ucas's figures.

Data from the Student Loans Company showed a 35% hike in part-time undergraduates applying for funding as well as a 58% increase in postgraduates.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams said it was a "real vote of confidence" in the student support system introduced in 2018 which has more generous grants for part-time students.

There has been concern some UK universities are increasingly offering places which do not depend on securing certain A-level grades, driven by competition for students.

A third of Aberystwyth University's offers had an unconditional element in 2018, up from 6.8% in the previous year.

It said it had changed its policy so those who met entrance requirements would be given unconditional offers, but those who passed a scholarship exam may get reduced but not unconditional offers.

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