University applications, offers and acceptances: trends
A response to the recommendation regarding applications, offer rates and acceptances made by Audit Scotland in its 2016 audit of higher education in Scottish universities.
1. UCAS Applications, Acceptances and Offer Rates
Applicants for all courses at Scottish HEIs
|EU (excluding UK)||12,190||15,750||17,050||18,130||18,870||18,730||19,290||19,820||19,090||18,810|
Source: UCAS, June deadline 2018
18. The latest June deadline UCAS data, published in June 2018, show a decrease (140 applicants) from the number of Scottish-domiciled applicants in 2017. The number of non-UK EU-domiciled applicants has decreased by 1.5%. This may be a result of the uncertainty over the future immigration status of EU students in the UK, as the number of EU applicants has decreased since the EU Exit referendum in June 2016.
Source: UCAS, End of Cycle 2018
19. The overall offer rate to 18 year-old Scottish-domiciled applicants from UK HEIs fluctuates year-on-year, but increased 1.2 percentage points since 2017 to 63.1%. This means that the offer rate has increased by 6.1 percentage points since 2011.
20. Despite the increase in the offer rate to 18 year-old Scottish applicants, this rate is still lower than the offer rate to English and Northern Irish applicants. This is due to not all higher education in Scotland being recorded by UCAS.
Number of Acceptances at Scottish HEIs by domicile
|- Northern Ireland||1,070||1,075||1,075||905||1,015||970||1,075||1,105||1,080||955|
|EU (excluding UK)||4,500||4,015||4,270||4,400||4,105||4,350||4,245||4,650||4,175||4,120|
Source: UCAS, End of Cycle 2018
21. 2018 UCAS statistics show a record number of Scottish applicants (35,515) were accepted to study at a Scottish university in 2018 (an increase of 2%).
22. The number of EU (non-UK) applicants accepted to study at Scottish HEIs decreased by 1% in 2018; this follows a 10% decrease in the previous year. Despite these decreases, the number of EU applicant acceptances to Scottish providers has remained relatively constant over the last ten years.
2. College Enrolments
23. In Scotland, UCAS deals with between a third and a half of undergraduate entrants to Scottish institutions, as a number of degree courses do not go through UCAS. In addition, students who follow articulation routes from colleges or study higher education courses at Scottish colleges are not counted in these figures.
First year enrolments to study HE at Scottish Colleges by Location Prior to Study
Source: SFC Infact database
24. The number of Scottish students studying higher education at Scottish colleges is considerable. In 2017-18, more Scottish students were enrolled to study higher education at Scottish colleges than accepted places, through UCAS, to study at Scottish universities. Few EU-domiciled students enrol to study higher education at Scottish colleges, with fewer than 100 students starting a course each year since 2014-15.
25. While the number of students enrolled at Scottish colleges to study higher education is considerable, it remains markedly less than those studying further education. In 2017-18, 86.7% of Scottish-domiciled students, and 90.2% of EU-domiciled, starting their first year of study at college were enrolled in further education courses.
First year enrolments at Scottish Colleges by Location Prior to Study
Source: SFC Infact database
3. Apprenticeships and Employability
26. The Scottish Government understands that it must always be alert and responsive to the needs of a changing Scottish economy to ensure its skills investment continues to maximise the talent and potential of the future workforce. Further education and higher education are not the only paths to employment, and how we recruit and train the workforce of today and tomorrow has a critical role in paving the way to the kind of economy we want Scotland to have in the future.
Developing the Young Workforce
27. Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) is Scotland's youth employment strategy and through DYW, the Scottish Government and its delivery partners aim to reduce youth unemployment levels by 40% by 2021. The strategy aims to create an excellent, work-relevant education offer to young people in Scotland, giving them the skills for the current and anticipated jobs market. In October 2017 the achievement of the headline target for DYW – a 40% reduction in youth unemployment – was announced four years ahead of schedule. The Scottish Government continues to meet this target for the period of 2017-18.
28. The creation and development of DYW Regional Groups will ensure that all of Scotland's young people are fully and fairly supported into employment. The Scottish Government has committed up to £3m per year, for a 3-year period, and completed the establishment of 21 regional groups in 2017.
29. This approach considers how to make the transition from education to employment much smoother by ensuring every young person has access to the right careers information, advice and guidance they require. To ensure young people have the opportunity to put their careers planning into action, DYW have committed to ensuring that every 16-19 year-old is offered a place in learning and training, in an area that suits their needs and aspirations.
30. The Scottish Government has a family of Apprenticeships – including modern (MA), graduate (GA) and foundation apprenticeships (FA) – which are well established and critical to its Youth Employment and Economic strategies. Apprenticeships deliver against the dual aims of supporting economic growth and addressing youth unemployment.
31. Progression against the target to deliver 30,000 MA starts by 2020 is on track; there were 27,145 MA starts in 2017-18 – exceeding the annual target of 27,000. The target for 2018-19 is 28,000 starts, which, for the first time, will include Graduate Apprenticeships in this target.
32. The role of Graduate Apprenticeships is expanding, following a successful trial period. There were 278 Graduate Apprenticeship starts in 2017-18. And this will increase to almost 900 Graduate Apprenticeship opportunities, across Engineering; IT; Civil Engineering; Construction; and Business. As a product of the Developing the Young Workforce programme, Scottish Government funding also provides support for Foundation Apprenticeships, which combine the benefits of school, college and work-based education for senior phase pupils.
33. Despite the relatively recent introduction of Foundation Apprenticeships in 2016, in a short period of time we have rapidly grown the number of opportunities from a standing start, to deliver an increase of over 600% in the numbers between 2016 and 2018.
34. The Scottish Government is committed to ambitious targets of 5000 FA opportunities being available by 2019, and the further embedding of FAs in the curriculum of schools across the country. FAs are already available in schools in each of the 32 local authority areas.
35. The recruitment of Apprentices is supported by an Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan (EAP), aiming to increase the number of disabled people, ethnic minority groups and care leavers entering apprenticeships. It also aims to tackle apprenticeship areas where there are gender imbalances, such as STEM opportunities. Skills Development Scotland published its most recent Annual Report on the EAP in August 2018.
4. Other Measures
School Leaver Destinations
36. Initial destinations of school leavers, approximately three months after leaving school, are measured as part of the Opportunities for All shared dataset. This measures school leavers who are engaged in higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment or activity agreements (positive destinations), as well as school leavers who are unemployed not seeking employment or training, unemployed seeking employment or training, and individuals where their initial destination is not known.
|Percentage of school leavers in initial destination by year|
|Any positive destination||90.1||91.7||92.5||93.0||93.3||93.7|
|Unemployed Not Seeking||1.3||1.1||1.1||1.1||1.3||1.4|
|Total number of leavers||49,744||51,632||51,335||52,433||52,249||51,258|
Source: Scottish Government, Initial Destinations of Senior Phase School Leavers February 2018
37. There has been a slight increase in the percentage of senior phase school leavers in positive initial destinations over the last six years, with 93.7% measured as such in October 2017.
38. The percentage of leavers choosing to continue their education, in further or higher education, has also increased from 64.5% of 2011-12 school leavers, to 67.5% of 2016-17 leavers.
39. The percentage of leavers in other initial destinations has decreased by 3.6 percentage points over the last six years, to 6.3% in October 2017.
Higher Education Initial Participation Rate
40. The Higher Education Initial Participation Rate (HEIPR) provides an estimate of the likelihood that a 16 year-old will participate in higher education by the age of 30. The measure does not show the proportion currently participating in higher education, the proportion continuing beyond the first six months, or those who successfully complete a course. This is more inclusive and more adequately recognises the importance of different learner journeys.
41. While the Scottish HEIPR rate of growth has been slow over the last ten years, it has consistently been higher than the rate of participation in England over the same period. For the purposes of this paper, the 16-20 HEIPR rate is included below.
Higher Education Initial Participation Rate in Scotland, aged 16-20, 2006-07 to 2016-17
|Academic Year||Initial Participation rate|
Source: SFC, Higher Education Students and Qualifiers at Scottish Institutions 2016-17, March 2018 (updated March 2019)
42. 2015-16 HEIPR figures for England were provisionally published in September 2017 and finalised in September 2018. 2016-17 data were published in September 2018 but have not yet been finalised.
Not in Education, Employment or Training
43. The measure of young people aged 16-19 who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) in Scotland is taken from the Annual Participation Measure. Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the Scottish Government have developed the measure to allow us to identify the status of the wider 16-19 cohort – not just those who have left school. The measure is drawn from SDS customer service records, which are updated and maintained by SDS and by partners (local authorities/schools, colleges, Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS), Department for Work and Pensions etc). It allows all partners to better understand the impact of interventions and the outcomes they deliver at every transition point for 16-19 year-olds.
44. This wider measurement for 2017 shows that the majority of young people aged 16-19 in Scotland (91.8%) are in some form of education, employment or training. This number has increased over the last three years, from 87.6% in 2015. The measure also shows that 3.4% are not participating, with 4.7% of 16-19 year-olds unconfirmed.
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