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International demand rises for elite UK courses

Applications from overseas students for courses starting next year that require top grades -- at Oxford and Cambridge universities and medical,dentistry and veterinary schools -- have risen by 10 per cent, new figures show.

A total 11,230 students from outside the European Union had applied to join the programmes by their October 15 deadline, representing nearly a fifth of all applicants, according to data published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

Oxford and Cambridge universities reported record numbers of applicants, rising by 1.5 per cent to 17,480 at Oxford and by nearly 4 per cent at Cambridge to 16,500. 

Overall, applications increased by 2 per cent compared with the same time last year. The rise ends a four year downward trend. Numbers were flat last year after dipping for entry in 2012 when higher tuition fees were introduced, and in the previous two years. But the most marked change has been in applications from overseas students ,which have recovered dramatically from a 19 per cent dip in 2010, a 13 per cent fall in 2011, and a further 5 per cent decline the following year.

UCAS Chief Executive Mary Curnock Cook said: “It is encouraging to see that the number of UK applicants for these demanding courses is holding steady, particularly as the young population continues to fall in this group."