Applicant boost for Scottish universities

Scotland bucks UK trend as more students apply for a university place.

Scotland’s universities are bucking the trend across the UK, with an increase in those applying to study north of the border for the next academic year.

The number of applicants to a Scottish university at the 15 January deadline increased by 1% compared to last year, in contrast with a 1% fall in applicants applying to any UK institution.

The latest UCAS figures provide the first indication of demand for higher education in 2018-19.

They include a 1% rise in the number of Scottish residents applying to a Scottish university and a 13% rise in the number of non-EU international students.

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“These figures are a significant indicator of the strength of Scotland's global reputation as a welcoming and world-class study destination.

“As I set out to Parliament last week, we remain a country where people want to come and work in our universities and also to study here. A diverse student population is an integral and valued part of our universities and indeed our colleges too.

“And while it is good to see Scotland’s universities outperforming those across the UK, it is also vitally important that we continue to drive forward our ambition to widen access to university for people from our most deprived communities.

“In 2017, we saw a 13% increase in the number of people from the most deprived communities getting places to study at university. Today’s application rate shows that there is more work to do if we are to see a similar increase in 2018. 

“Universities must do all they can to promote the opportunities available for learners from our most deprived backgrounds and to make them aware where there is still a chance to apply before the 30th June deadline.

“It is equally important that universities push ahead with the implementation of minimum entry thresholds so that the potential of those who do apply is recognised fairly within the application process.”


The UCAS publication UK applications rates by the January deadline is published on 5 February 2018. 

In Scotland, around one third of admissions are not processed through UCAS so this provides only part of the picture of entry to higher education.

The figures also show the number of Scottish domiciled applicants applying to nursing courses in the UK increased by 4%. This compares to a 13% decrease seen by English domiciled applicants applying to nursing courses in the UK.


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