THE university application rate among 18-year-olds in Scotland has hit a record high, while the proportion of young Scots from the poorest areas who are applying has more than doubled since 2004, a report has revealed.
Despite the increase, the application rate from those living in the most disadvantaged communities is still lower than in the rest of the UK.
The latest figures from UCAS showed that almost a third (31.4%) of 18-year-olds in Scotland had submitted an application by the 15 January deadline, with the application rate for this age group at a record high.
The data also shows that 15% of 18-year-olds from Scotland’s most deprived communities had made a university application by this year’s deadline - an increase of 108% from 2004, when the application rate was just 7.2%
Across the UK as a whole just over one in five youngsters (20.5%) from the most disadvantaged areas had applied by the January deadline and in Northern Ireland the application rate from this group increased to 25.7%, while England and Wales had rates of 20.7% and 18.2% respectively.
A total of 41,080 people in Scotland had applied to study at university by January 15 this year, the UCAS figures showed, the first time this total has exceeded 40,000.
By January 15, a total of 580,000 people had applied to study at university in Britain, with this figure including almost 90,000 applications from would-be students from overseas.
Education Secretary Mike Russell said: “It is welcome news that, once again, a record number of Scots have applied to university. What’s more, the contrast with England - where application numbers still have not returned to pre-tuition fee levels - is stark.
“That is why we will ensure Scottish students continue to have access to higher education based on the ability to learn rather than the ability to pay. And why, as I have made clear, this will continue in an independent Scotland.”
He added: “I am particularly pleased to see more young people from deprived areas applying. Eighteen-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds are more than twice as likely to apply to university than a decade ago.
“Scotland’s universities are among the best in the world and a real strength of our nation. Today’s figures show they are thriving.”