The fall of just under 3 per cent coincides with graduate applicants having to find £3,000 a year upfront to pay their fees.
Graduates on traditional courses face having to find four years’ worth of fees and students on four-year, fast-track courses have to pay the fees for their first year.
Mature students make up more than a quarter of students at many medical schools and last year, even on undergraduate courses, 11 per cent of students already had a first degree.
The total number of applicants this year was 18,994, less than in any year since 2003.
More on this story in GP newspaper.