The figures, published by UCAS for applications up to January 15, also show the proportion of applicants from the most deprived areas in Wales increase by 10% this year.
The proportion of Welsh 18-year-olds applying for university reached a record high, with almost a third applying to higher education.
The proportion of all applicants from Wales who applied to Welsh higher education providers rose to 76.3%, up from 75.5% last year.
Kirsty Williams, the Minister for Education, has radically reformed the student finance system in Wales, with a fundamental shift towards supporting students with their day-to-day living costs.
Wales is the only country in Europe which offers equivalent living costs support for undergraduate full-time, part-time and post-graduate students.
Kirsty Williams, said:
“I’m delighted to see a big increase in applications to Welsh universities.
“This is despite an overall decline in the number of 18 year olds in Wales.
“Welsh universities lead the way in the UK for student satisfaction and research impact and it’s great to see more and more students choosing our universities.
“Our student finance reforms make it easier for all students to manage their day-to-day costs.
“We know this is the biggest barrier to accessing higher education, whether it’s a traditional 18 year old school leaver, someone combining work with study or a student from a non-traditional background going on to do a Master’s.
“Our figures show our reforms are working and I am determined to keep opening up higher education to more people and I’m especially pleased to see the gap between the most advantaged and disadvantaged applicants narrowing.”