Record number of students from deprived areas at university

Overall record enrolments at Scottish institutions.

The number of Scots from the most deprived areas enrolling at Scottish universities is at a new record high.

Higher Education Student Statistics, published today, show a new overall record number of students enrolling in Scottish institutions - an increase of 8.6% compared to last year. This includes a new record high of Scottish domiciled students enrolling at university.

There has also been a large increase in the number of non-EU domiciled students – up 17% on last year.

Commenting on the figures, Higher and Further Education Minister Jamie Hepburn said:

“Every young person should have an equal chance of success no matter their background or circumstance, so it is great to see the number and proportion of Scots from the most deprived areas at university hit a record high. By 2030, we want 20% of students entering higher education to come from Scotland's most deprived backgrounds and the Commissioner for Fair Access has previously said that Scotland is ‘setting the pace’ in the UK in widening participation.

“Today’s data also shows the number of students enrolling at Scottish universities hit a new record high and we have seen a large increase in international students. This highlights the fact that Scotland, along with our world class higher education institutions, remains an attractive place to study and live for prospective students.

“However, we have seen a continued drop in EU students coming to study in Scotland following Brexit. EU students enrich our campus life and I hope we can still welcome many of them to our world-leading institutions.”


Higher Education Student Statistics UK 2020-21 show:

  • A record number of students enrolled at Scottish HEIs in 2020-21: an increase from last year of 8.6% (+22,385) to 282,875

Scottish domiciled                180,170         (+7.9%,   +13,120 since 2019-20)

rUK domiciled                       34,520            (+8.4%,   +2,685 since 2019-20)

Non-EU domiciled               47,630            (+17.0%, +6,935 since 2019-20)

EU domiciled                        20,550            (-1.7%,    -345 since 2019-20)

  • 16.7% of Scottish domiciled full time first degree entrants to Scottish HEIs are from the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland. This is an increase of 0.3 percentage points, or 545 entrants, from 16.4% in 2019-20.


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