42% of UK 18-year-olds are currently holding an offer to commence a full-time undergraduate degree in autumn 2021, which leaves 58% not doing so. As we approach results day this year, UCAS’ latest report ‘Where next? Who doesn’t plan to start a full-time undergraduate degree in autumn?’ sheds new light on the thoughts and plans of this group based on brand new polling. 

Key findings

  • More than three quarters (78%) of students who are getting their results next week but do not plan to go to university or college this autumn are interested in, or are set on, starting an apprenticeship.
  • The main features of apprenticeships are attractive to young people, with the most popular reasons for students choosing the pathway are to earn money (50%), to continue learning but in a ‘different way’ (43%), and to do something ‘new and different’ (42%).
  • UCAS’ apprenticeship platform CareerFinder has seen a record 1.35 million searches in the last 12 months, up 37% on 2020. These searches have resulted in 225,000 applications, an increase from 181,000 last year (+24%).
  • Almost 9 in 10 (88%) of students are either fairly or very committed to their chosen option despite being largely unable to visit or attend interviews in person.
  • Of all the survey respondents (of which 38% had a live UCAS application but have not accepted any offers, and 62% who had not applied through UCAS at all), only 11% say they had received enough careers information, advice, and guidance and did not require any more, while 9% state they did not receive any at all.
  • Just under a fifth of students (18%) who are not planning to go to university or college in autumn feel they do not have many options for next year.  

*These latest findings come after UCAS revealed in its Where Next? Improving the journey to becoming an apprentice report in May that over half of students looking to apply to HE in 2022 said they are interested in apprenticeships. Also, as noted in our Where Next? What influences the choices school leavers make? report, one in three students do not receive any information about apprenticeships from their school or college.

A total of 630 17 to 19 year olds (216 males, 396 females, 18 other gender) responded to the survey. All participants were sourced via schools and UCAS circulated the survey link. All these students are expecting to receive qualification results on 10 August 2021. None of the sample had accepted an offer via UCAS between 25 June 2021 and 14 July 2021.

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education.

Our services support young people making post-18 choices, as well as mature learners, by providing information, advice, and guidance to inspire and facilitate educational progression to university, college, or an apprenticeship. We manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

We also provide a wide range of research, consultancy and advisory services to schools, colleges, careers services, professional bodies, and employers, including apprenticeships.