UK students are seeking out opportunities closer to home following the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest Google Search data has revealed.

With uncertainty surrounding travel and study in the last year, more and more students are looking local for their higher education routes, which is highlighted by the 171% rise in searches for ‘degree apprenticeships near me’. The East of England and the North East experienced the highest surges, with 467% and 350% growth respectively.

Since March 2020, students have had to put their future under the microscope, leading higher education provider Newcastle College to explore the potential impact on course signups ahead of the next academic year.

The data also suggests that students are looking at tapping into their creative side. ‘Fashion colleges near me’, ‘dance colleges near me’, and ‘art colleges near me’ are all within the top ten course searches that have experienced growth. The data suggests students are coming out of the pandemic and ready to follow their true passions in life. ‘Fashion colleges near me’ searches saw a 181% increase overall as the South West, South East and North East led the way with 300%, 250% and 200% rises respectively for that particular search term.

Scott Bullock, Principal at Newcastle College said,

“The results from the research undertaken are fascinating, and it’s clear to see the direct effect the pandemic has had on education, particularly on higher education.

“While many people are taking their next steps and might feel uncertain about the current situation, many others will be looking to retrain in a new career and it appears they are exploring all of the routes available to them, like degree apprenticeships, which is fantastic.

“It’s also encouraging to see the rising interest in studying closer to home too. Newcastle College is right at the heart of the North East and our vision is to develop the skills and talents of our learners to succeed in our region; we offer courses from entry level right through to apprenticeships, degrees and postgraduate level study to help them do that.”

With the NHS at the centre of our lives throughout the pandemic, interest in nursing degrees has also spiked. Northern Ireland’s searches have doubled for ‘nursing degree apprenticeships’. With one-third of the nation’s health workforce working in nursing and midwifery, it suggests that locals are continually keen to give back and contribute to their health service.

Searches for ‘nursing university near me’ experienced a massive spike in the South West, tripling over the last year. One of the highest growths for midwifery degree apprenticeships across the UK came from the North East (up 133%), in line with Newcastle Birthing Centre celebrating its 10th anniversary and more than 13,000 babies have been delivered in that time.

Although the data suggests students are now more eager to study closer to home, London has seen a decrease of 57% in paramedic degree apprenticeships searches which could imply the pandemic has had a negative effect on impressions of this career.

During the last 12 months in the UK, there has also been a post-16 educational shift, with searches for ‘good college near me’ growing 182%, while many alternative routes are also on the rise.

All regions across England and Wales saw an increase in ‘sixth form near me’ searches with the Welsh experiencing a 3,900% spike – searches there jumped from 40 in June 2020 to 1,600 in May this year. In the North East, there was a 91% increase.

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