Scottish universities buck UK admissions slump


Scottish universities have bucked a UK slump in admissions with a slight rise in the number of pupils going on to higher education.

Education secretary Michael Russell hailed the figures as a vindication of the Scottish government’s £1 billion investment in universities and commitment to free tuition.

To date, 35,781 pupils have been accepted to Scottish institutions, up by 244, or 0.7 per cent, on last year, according to figures published by UCAS. 

In England, by contrast, admissions have dropped eight per cent, in Wales 5.1 per cent, and in Northern Ireland 4.5 per cent.

“Scotland is the only country in the UK today with an increase in the number of student places for its young people,” Mr Russell said.

“Alongside our commitment to uphold Scotland’s long-standing principle of free education, we invested more than £1 billion in universities this year to protect places for Scottish students.

“Already, today’s initial figures from UCAS show that scrapping tuition fees and investing in higher education was the right thing to do.”

The first figures for Scottish students accepted to Scottish institutions were released earlier this month after the publication of Higher exam results, showing a three per cent rise from 21,630 in 2011 to 22,292.

The 13,489 extra admissions that were revealed subsequently relate to pupils from the rest of the UK – who received their A level exam results later – international students and a number of additional Scottish students who were also accepted afterwards.

Mr Russell said “the vast majority” of pupils who wanted a university place would get one but other routes were open to young people too. 

The Scottish government is committed to providing a place in education or training to everyone aged between 16 and 19 in Scotland.

The fact that universities can now charge students from the rest of the UK has had no effect on the number of places available to Scottish students, according to the government.

Scottish students pay no tuition fees to study at Scottish institutions.

The Scottish government is trying to find a way around European Union (EU) regulations that compel Scottish taxpayers to pay tuition fees for EU students studying in Scotland as well. 

However, students from the rest of UK do have to pay to study in Scotland because of a legal loophole.

The total number of students accepted to Scottish institutions for next term will not be known until the clearing and appeals process has ended, a Scottish government spokesman said. UCAS said a full statistical analysis of admissions showing country of origin and other information would be published later this year.


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