Exam results day: Record number of pupils achieve university place

More pupils from Scotland have achieved a university place on exams results day than in any previous year, with a 13 per cent increase in placed applicants from Scotland's most deprived communities.

A record number of pupils have achieved a university place on results day. Picture: PA
A record number of pupils have achieved a university place on results day. Picture: PA

The Scottish Funding Council’s interim chief executive John Kemp said: “Today’s figures show that 28,700 Scottish students have secured a place at university and 27,830 will be starting their studies at a Scottish University. This reflects the strength of the university sector in Scotland.

“I am especially pleased today to see the 13 per cent increase in students from the most deprived areas of Scotland going to a Scottish university. Although there is more work to be done, today’s figures indicate that we are taking significant steps in the right direction.”

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EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Scotland’s pupils and teachers should be proud of this strong set of results, achieved during a significant period of change for Scottish education.

“This year’s results demonstrate that pupils and Scotland’s schools continue to perform well despite teachers having to deliver the new qualifications in extremely challenging circumstances.”

Higher passes dipped very slightly for pupils sitting Scottish exams in 2017 but remain largely in line with attainment rates.

Just under 137,000 students are receiving their results by text, email or post throughout Tuesday.

Candidates passed 150,010 Highers, with an attainment rate (grades between A and C) of 77 per cent, down slightly from 152,701 passes with a rate of 77.2 per cent last year.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) said the results were evidence of a “very stable system”.

The total number of Highers sat in 2017 was just under 195,000 compared to almost 198,000 last year.

Figures from the SQA also show a pass rate of 92.8 per cent for the National 4 exams, with 107,631 passes, while pupils achieved 233,005 passes at National 5, with a success rate of 79.5 per cent.

The figures are broadly in line with 2016 figures when the attainment rate for National 4 was 93.2 per cent and 79.4 per cent for the National 5.

Advanced Higher passes fell to 19,283, with a pass rate of 80 per cent.

Dr Janet Brown, chief executive of the SQA, said: “I think it shows a very stable system.

“One of the things that we absolutely have to ensure is that standards are maintained and we can see that candidates are reaching those standards and attaining as they have done in the past.”

In Maths the attainment rate rose to 74 per cent from 73.5 per cent last year at Higher, while in English the attainment rate dropped from 78.8 per cent in 2016 to 77.3 per cent this year.

Pass marks were around 50 per cent with no repeat of the problems with the 2015 maths exam.

Dr Brown said: “Everything has worked as we would expect and our systems have worked as we wanted them to, to ensure candidates achieve what they deserve and allows them to go to the next phase of their lives.”