unsw quadrangle
University of NSW (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Universities across Australia are recording higher levels of interest among prospective students, with more young people turning to higher education as the sector struggles during the pandemic.

Data from the University Admissions Centre, which handles undergraduate entry for NSW and the ACT, shows more than 43,000 students applied early for tertiary study in 2021 -- an 8% increase on last year's numbers.

Universities across the country are seeing a similar growth in domestic demand. In Queensland, there's been a 20.3% increase in new enrolments compared to last year, the Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) says — although that increase is just 6.5% when the state's reduced 2019 year 12 cohort is factored in.