The fact that women remain more likely to enter higher education than men are to apply is a striking and worrying finding.
The headline numbers in this report signal the challenging environment for recruitment in 2012 for some parts of UK higher education.
However, the underlying findings are more subtle - for example, although demand for higher education has fallen in England, the actual entry rates for young people are close to trend.
The continuing increase in participation from more disadvantaged groups is very encouraging, as is the absence of any signal that they are turning away from higher fee courses.
More top news
Becky Watts' uncle speaks exclusively to ITV News following the arrest of two people on suspicion of her alleged kidnap and murder.
The story of the years preceding Mohammed Emwazi's arrival in Syria is a complex one.
Staying blustery for the next 24 hours with strong winds driving some rain, sleet and snow from west to east tonight.