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A group of three students at the top of stairs. They look at the horizon and carry books and folders.

Photo: University of the West of Scotland

Figures out today from the universities admissions service, UCAS, show that 40,760 Scots had applied to start a degree course at a Scottish university by the annual January deadline; a 3% increase on the position this time last year.

Contributing to the rise was a 0.4 percentage point growth in those applying to university from Scotland’s most deprived areas, marking a further step towards fair access to higher education.

The continuing strong demand for Scottish university places amongst Scottish school leavers also played a part in the increase. This year’s application figure for 18 year olds and under living in Scotland is 20,550, the second highest for almost a decade.

The report suggests the number of international students applying to Scottish universities from outside the European Union has levelled off over the last few years with the application numbers for 2024-25 remaining similar to last year. Meanwhile, the number of people applying from within the European Union is down by 5%.

Overall, the total number applying for places has decreased this year for universities both north and south of the Border, down 1.9% in Scotland and 0.7% in England. Universities in Wales and Northern Ireland have seen small increases in applicants compared with 2023-24.

The full 2024 cycle applicant figures for the January deadline are now available on the UCAS website.