As UK university deadlines draw near, UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service), has released figures detailing today's student preferences, and how they've changed over the past seven years.
According to the BBC, last year saw 500,000 applicants accepted into higher education, with around 700,000 in total applying, an increase of 3.4 percent from the previous year, with an steady overall acceptance ratio of 73 percent.
The biggest increase was seen in nursing, which has witnessed a rise of approximately 180,000 applications since 2007.
Certain sciences have also fared well, both chemistry and biology have seen an increase of 50 percent in the past seven years- to around 30,000 each. Chemical process and energy engineering has also grown, although starting from a much lower base in 2007, today its risen to almost 20,000- a whopping increase of 135 percent!
The past decade has seen both winners and losers, mechanical and general engineering for example, has risen by 80 percent since 2007, modern languages has not fared so well, falling by around 24 percent.
According to UCAS, the introduction of 9000 GBP fees back in 2012 did indeed cause a decline in student course uptake at the time, today however, many courses have bounced back. It should be noted however, that the body estimates that today's figures are slightly lower than they would have been, had the hike not been introduced.
There's some great news for gender equality too. Although overall application figures for civil engineering remain approximately the same as they did in 2007, within them we can see female applicants now make-up around 25 percent of students. Nutrition, on the other hand, which has traditionally been a female-dominated course, has seen a 10 percent rise in male applicants.
UCAS notes that applicants and uptake for courses such as dentistry and medicine have remained the same since 2007, primarily thanks to their limited number of places available to applicants.
Interestingly, computer science remains in the top 10 applicants list for another year running, although it still has one of the highest drop out rates of all courses.
In the US things are done a little differently, courses are much more dictated by earning potential and as such, the BBC notes, "according to the US National Centre for Educational Statistics (NCES) of the 1,716,000 bachelor's degrees conferred in 2010-11, the most popular areas were business (365,000), social sciences and history (177,000), health professions and related programs (143,000), education (104,000), and psychology (101,000)."
These choices based on earning potential are directly linked to the debt accrued by most students in the US. The average US student now leaves university with average debt of 26,000 USD. And, for the first time in history, total student debt in the US has now overtaken the nation's entire credit card debt, recently passing 1 trillion USD.
"According to NCES, business studies has been accounting for around 20% of all undergraduate degrees in the US since the mid-70s. For comparison, the corresponding figure for business and related areas in the UK is around 10% and has been steady at that rate for nearly a decade," reports the BBC.
Most popular courses 2014
Nursing: 238,000 applications
Design Studies: 97,000
Pre-Clinical Medicine: 85,000
Computer Science: 77,000
Sport and Exercise: 67,000
Social Work: 64,000