Last week we interviewed most of the applicants for our department's PhD studentships that are due to start in September. (I was on the interview panel; note that I am PhD admissions tutor.) Subsequently I have sent out some informal offers by email. We had two kinds of studentship on offer: doctoral training account (DTA) studentships (given out by the research councils and only available to Uk students) and department funded ones (available to EU students).
The DTA studentships were allocated very late this year, at the end of April, which is the fault of the research councils, which are clearly out of touch with the process. They don't seem to appreciate that a highly-qualified, well-organised student will want to have a place stitched up round about Jan/Feb. Add to that the constraint to UK students, and you begin to see why it was more fun to fill the department-funded places. The late allocation of the DTA quota is the second-most annoying thing that has happened to me this year; the most annoying thing is conveniently co-located in my previous post to this blog.
Having said which, I concede that we should probably try to raise our game vis-a-vis the process of advertising to prospective students.