This is more than double the year-on-year decline for all courses, which stands at 7.4 per cent, according to the University and Colleges Admissions Service.
The new figures show that the decline noted in UCAS’s January statistics – which also noted a 16.3 per cent drop – has remained the same.
A total of 252 893 people have applied to creative arts and design courses starting in September, compared to 302 020 who had applied by this time last year.
The decline in application numbers follows changes to the higher-education funding system, which could see university fees for undergraduate courses rise to £9000 a year.
Ucas says there has been no ‘substantial move’ towards or away from higher-fee courses compared to previous years. It also says applicants from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds are making ‘much the same choices’ as previous years.
Ucas chief executive Mary Curnock Cook says, ‘This in-depth analysis of the 2012 applications data shows that, although there has been a reduction in application rates where tuition fees have increased, there has not been a disproportionate effect on more disadvantaged groups.’