UK Higher Education

A different take on university applications for A level results day

Whilst A level results conjures the predictable headlines, and a never-ending stream of photos of girls with blonde hair celebrating their results on the news and in the newspapers, we thought it might be appropriate to take a different view on some of the recent trends we are seeing across the Hotcourses Group for prospective applicants to higher education.

The drop in Nursing

The drop in demand for Nursing courses over the last 12 months has almost certainly been the biggest news story to face university applications. The impact of the abolition of the Department of Health funded bursaries for nursing students has started to be felt.

The UCAS applicant figures for end the June 2017 show a 19% drop in nursing courses, and coupled with predicted decreases in nurses choosing to move here from the European Union after Brexit the NHS is bracing itself for challenges in sustaining our nursing population.

Indeed figures across the Hotcourses sites for UK undergraduate programmes would suggest that Nursing may be in line for a further drop ahead of the September 2018 cycle. In 2016, 1.3% of courses searches across the sites were looking for Nursing. By 2017, this had dropped to just 0.8% the majority of whom are considering a September 2018 start.

% of all course searches for Nursing


% of all course searches for Nursing


1.3% 0.8%


Gender split: But what can be done to improve the % women enrolling onto engineering and computer science degrees

The gradual dominance of women over men on higher education courses in the UK is well documented. According to UCAS data published up to 30th June 2017, 57.4% of applicants to higher education were women.

Whilst women are participating as a greater proportion of higher education students than ever before, we know the distribution across different disciplines remains incredibly variable. Statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) tell us that subjects allied to medicine and veterinary science have populations of nearly 80% who are female. Whereas for engineering and computer science that figure remains stubbornly below 20%.

Interestingly across the Hotcourses UK sites, whilst we also see an imbalance in the gender of students looking at computer science and engineering heavily toward males, the proportions are not nearly as stark as the eventual enrolment data.

Engineering by Gender (August 2016 – July 2017, Hotcourses UK sites)


Computer Science by Gender (August 2016 – July 2017, Hotcourses UK sites)

So whilst only around 18% of computer science and engineering students are women, over 30% of users who search for those courses on the Hotcourses UK sites are women. Of course this begs a number of questions, most prominent of which is what can be done to better convert a greater proportion of female students who have shown an interest in studying engineering or computer science in order to apply and then enrol?

Mobile and tablet usage passes 50%

The stereotype exists that students are constantly glued to their mobile phones. And whilst that is an exaggeration, the latest analysis from the Hotcourses UK sites show that we are seeing a steady increase in the proportion of our users who are using mobile and tablet to view our sites. By June and July 2017, over 52% of users were using either mobile or tablet.

JUNE & JULY 2016                                                                    JUNE & JULY 2017

Given the hefty proportions of prospective students using mobile and tablet to research universities and courses it is vital to ensure that university sites are mobile friendly, particularly pages which prospective students will be researching.

For more information on our Insights data contact

, , , ,
Previous Post
Smartening your approach to outreach and student recruitment
Next Post
Clearing interest on Whatuni increases 27% year-on-year

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed