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University demand at record high

University of Glasgow

19 Feb 2021

New figures from the university admissions service, UCAS, show the total number of applicants to Scottish universities has risen by over 12 per cent (an increase of 14,700 applicants), reaching a record high for this point in the application cycle.

The figures show a significant increase in applicants to Scottish universities from young people aged 18 or under. By the 29 January deadline, a total of 20,410 students in this age group had applied for a place, an increase of over 16 per cent – or 2,900 applicants. The number of applicants aged 21 or over has also increased this year and is up by 13.4 per cent.

The number of Scottish school leavers applying to nursing courses at a Scottish university has increased by 27.7 per cent, indicative of the high profile of the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic and a reminder of the part played by Scotland’s universities in enabling and supporting Scotland’s health services.

The UCAS figures reflect changes brought about by Brexit, with EU application figures to Scottish universities falling by almost 40 per cent, a picture reflected at universities across the UK. In line with a trend that first emerged in 2015, the number of non-EU overseas applicants to Scottish universities has continued to rise, increasing by over 26 per cent.

There was positive news too for initiatives, such as the SFC-funded Schools for Higher Education Programme, which work to encourage school pupils from deprived areas to apply for a place at university. For the 2021 admissions cycle, the number of school age applicants from Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas makes up almost 12 per cent of all applicants, a 0.5 percentage point increase on the previous cycle.

Data showing applications to the 29 January deadline 2021 is now available on the UCAS website.