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The latest analysis from the university admission service, UCAS, shows an 8% increase in applicants being given a place at a Scottish university.

The 48,820 applicants now starting a full-time undergraduate degree course represent the highest number since 2011, an increase of 3,700 from this time last year.

According to UCAS, today’s figures – produced just over 5 weeks from SQA results day – provide a reliable indication of the final acceptance figures for the annual university applications cycle. As such, they will be seen as good news for Scottish universities at a time of uncertainty amidst the global coronavirus pandemic.

One effect of the pandemic on 2020 university applications has been the number of applicants being given a place at a relatively late stage in the process. Around 14,000 applicants have been placed since SQA results day on 4 August compared with 10,380 during the same period last year.

Commenting on figures across the whole of the UK, Clare Marchant, UCAS Chief Executive, said:

“As students are starting their new courses across the country, these numbers confirm the enduring appeal and welcome of our outstanding universities and colleges.

“They, along with schools, UCAS, and organisations across the entire education sector, have worked tirelessly in recent months to provide reassurance and flexibility to applicants, and ensure access to the best opportunities possible.”

There was also good news today for students from the most disadvantaged parts of Scotland. The UCAS figures show a 5% increase in applicants from these areas, a development that will be seen as a welcome sign of further progress towards fairer access to higher education.