Record number of HE qualifiers

Highest proportion of HE undergraduate student entrants at college in a decade.

A record number of higher education students gained qualifications from Scottish institutions in 2015-16. At 97,565, this represents an increase of 17.7% since 2006-07. 

Official statistics published by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) today also show that entrants to colleges made up 37% of the total undergraduate entrants in higher education, which is the highest proportion seen in the last 10 years.

Overall there were 285,450 students in higher education in Scotland in 2015/16, an increase of 1.5% from the previous year and 2.1% from 2006/07.

The SFC publication also shows that the number of Scottish domiciled entrants from the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland represented 16.1% of entrants to higher education; however this varied widely by institution:   

  • Colleges fared the best in this area with 23%
  • Post-92 HEIs were at 15%
  • Open University at 14%
  • Newer Universities at 12%
  • Specialised HEIs at 11%
  • Ancient Universities at 8%
  • Universities outside Scotland at 7%

Welcoming the figures the Minister for Further and Higher Education Shirley-Anne Somerville said:  

“I am delighted to see an increase in higher education students in our colleges and universities and also to learn that we have a record high number of students gaining HE qualifications.

“Scotland has a world class higher education system based on the core principles of being free, fair and funded.  These figures confirm the huge contribution that Scotland’s excellent colleges make to higher education.

“I am encouraged to see more entrants from the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland accessing Higher Education.  Although these figures show a variation between institutions still persists.

“Scotland is gifted with a wide range of world class universities for students to choose from and we need to make sure that all of our Higher Education Institutions are accessible. 

“I am in no doubt that through our continued focus on widening access to HE and our work with our higher education institutions, we will continue to see improvements going forward, ensuring that all of our young people get an equal chance to get a world class education.”  


Further information on the stats can be found here


Media enquiries

Back to top