THE number of Scots applying for a place at university is on the increase, according to newly published figures.
Data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) for April shows a 1 per cent increase on the same period last year. Applicant numbers fell by 2.2 per cent during the same period in 2012 with the introduction of higher fees, despite Scots being exempt from the cost of tuition.
As of 22 April, 41,724 Scots had applied for a university place, up from 41,331 in 2012, but still short of the 42,263 who applied in 2011 ahead of the introduction of fees.
The total number of applicants to UK universities, including EU and international students, is up by 2.5 per cent on last year, when the total number of applicants for all courses fell by 7.7 per cent.
While applications can continue to be submitted until 30 June, those received after the January deadline are classed as late. However, universities continue to make offers until all available places are gone.
Despite applicants figures being lower at this point last year, a late surge in applications saw the overall number of Scots going to university rise by 0.3 per cent in 2012. Scots are exempt from the cost of tuition in their home country, while students from elsewhere in the UK can pay up to £9,000 a year to study at universities such as Edinburgh and St Andrews.
However, the number of places for Scots and EU students – who are also exempt from fees – is capped, while there are no such limits on those coming from the rest of the UK.
Last week it emerged that Aberdeen University has raised its entry requirements due to an increase in the number of applications from Scots, with other universities understood to be considering similar moves.
Commenting on the Ucas figures, education secretary Mike Russell said: “I am delighted at this increase in the number of young people applying to Scottish universities. The fact is that this Scottish Government has ruled out tuition fees, which is why we now have record numbers studying at university and increasing applications.”
Professor Michael Gunn, vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University and chair of university think-tank million+, said: “The small increase in the number of applications to university from those wishing to study full-time in 2013 is very welcome given the significance of graduates to our economic and social future and the benefits of a degree to an individual.”
Commenting on the Scottish figures, a spokeswoman for Universities Scotland added: “The latest Ucas figures showing an increase from last year in Scottish applicants to university are very welcome and are an indicator that a university education is in high demand.”