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.
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