More students from Singapore, the mainland, Malaysia and Hong Kong have applied for undergraduate places in Britain than did last year, according to figures released on Thursday by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Although the figures, which reflect applications for 2008 submitted by the January 15 deadline for equal consideration, show Singapore to be in a percentage lead - up 26.8 per cent - it doesn't send as many students to Britain as the mainland, which was up 20.5 per cent with 3,386 applications, an increase on 2,811 last year. There were 1,657 applications from Singapore, up from 1,307. Malaysian applications increased by 10.1 per cent to 1,772, up from 1,610 last year, and Hong Kong increased by 5 per cent to 2,711, up from 2,581. With the exception of Hong Kong, the figures show an improvement on the 2006/7 comparison when Singaporean applications increased by 9.5 per cent, Malaysia by 4.7 per cent and the mainland by just 1.6 per cent. The comparison for Hong Kong that year showed an increase of 10.3 per cent, above this year's rise. And the latest figures reflect a reversal of fortunes for the mainland and Malaysia in a comparison of 2005/6 when applications fell 13.6 per cent and 11.8 per cent respectively. Singapore increased by 13 per cent and Hong Kong by 6.9 per cent that year. Over that four-year period, Singaporean applications have gone up by 56.8 per cent, compared to 23.8 per cent for Hong Kong, 5.7 per cent for the mainland and just 1.6 per cent for Malaysia. The new figures show an overall increase in applications - from both inside and outside Britain - with 430,489 students chasing undergraduate places, up 8.9 per cent on last year. The figures from overseas students alone were up 8.8 per cent overall, from 45,644 to 49,664. Bulgaria and Lithuania showed the greatest increases on last year at 111.3 per cent and 35.2 per cent (400 to 845 and 644 to 871 students), followed by Canada at 30.9 per cent (868 to 1,136) and Norway 29.1 per cent (512 to 661). Ireland, the country that sends the most students to Britain, registered a fall of 8.1 per cent (4,694 to 4,312), with Nigeria (-19 per cent), Poland (-8.7 per cent), Sweden (-2 per cent), Pakistan (-1.4 per cent) and India (-0.6 per cent) also in deficit. Ucas chief executive Anthony McClaren said the situation was likely to improve further over the year. 'These figures provide an encouraging indication for the likely position in the summer and, of course, there will still be thousands more applications between now and then,' he said.