The number of students applying to UK universities has gone up by 6.4% and the number of students applying to English universities has risen by 7.2%.
The rise in applications is in spite of higher fees in England
The figures, from the admissions service, Ucas, show 395,307 students applied for UK university courses in 2007, compared to 371,683 in 2006.
This is in spite of annual tuition fees rising to £3,000 from September 2006 in England and Northern Ireland.
The Ucas figures also show greater take-up of career-led courses.
While applicants to English universities and colleges increased by 7.2%, Scottish institutions saw a rise in applications of 1.9% and Northern Ireland's universities saw a rise of 0.3%.
Welsh institutions, on the other hand, saw a fall in applications of 0.1%.
Traditional courses with significant rises in applicants in 2007
Civil engineering 18,605 up 13%
Economics: 37,974 up 12.8%
Physics: 19,140 up 12.2%
Chemistry: 20,786 up 11.3%
Fine art: 9,703 up 10.5%
Maths: 33,790 up 10%
Music: 21,281 up 9.9%
History: 6,021 up 9.2%
English: 55,581 up 7.6%
Biology: 23,367 up 6%
The Ucas figures show more women are applying to university - 221,523 applied in 2007, compared to 173,784 men.
And applications from overseas students, be they European or otherwise, were up 10.9% on last year from 41,163 to 45,644.
There was a dramatic increase - 33.9% - in applicants from new European Union countries, with a 200% rise in applications from Romania and a 184% rise from Bulgaria.
The figures suggests students are thinking more carefully about which degree course will give them a return on their money post-graduation, with more career-based degrees seeing increased popularity.
Applications for degrees in business and administrative studies are up by 25% on last year to 45,061.
And applications for tourism, transport and travel degrees saw a rise of 30%, while finance degrees got 5,545 applications - a rise on the previous year of 20%.
Some subjects saw a decline in applicants - archaeology saw a fall in applications of over 10% and astronomy saw applications plummet 17%.
Last year's 'blip'
When the increased fees or "top-up fees" - which are paid after graduation - were introduced last year, applications fell 3%.
Government ministers and universities will be relieved that this trend has not continued.
The initial slump in applications may have been a one-off effect, similar to the one-year decline in 1998 when tuition fees were first introduced (then about £1,000 a year, but paid upfront).
The data is compiled from applications rates on 15 January, the advised closing date for UK and EU applicants (although it is possible to apply up until the start of the academic year).
Ucas chief executive, Anthony McClaran, said: "These figures are encouraging for all who believe the expansion of higher education is good for individuals and good for our society.
"Not only has last year's dip in applications been reversed, but application levels are now higher than in 2005 which had previously broken all records.
"The increase is particularly marked in England".
Bill Rammell: Relieved by the rise in applications
The Higher Education Minister, Bill Rammell, said: "These highest ever figures show that tuition fees are not putting students off applying to university, as many predicted.
"The critics of the new system are being proved emphatically wrong."
Professor Drummond Bone, president of Universities UK, said: "Despite some rather gloomy predictions as to the probable effects of the new fees regime on university applications, these figures show that demand for places remains strong and that application numbers are on the increase.
"There have been big changes in the student finance package, which can take time to be fully understood, so it is pleasing to see that people continue to see higher education as a worthwhile investment in their futures."
But the National Union of Students said further information was necessary to establish how students from "under-represented and debt-averse backgrounds" were responding to the new fees regime inn England.
"This is the real litmus test of the impact of top up fees - a drop in this group would be extremely serious even in the context of an overall increase," said NUS president Gemma Tumelty.