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University remains an attractive proposition according to the latest data from UCAS, the universities admissions service. In a report published today, 9 February 2023, UCAS confirmed that applications to Scottish universities have increased by 2% compared with pre-pandemic levels (2,600 additional applicants).

While applications from mature students (aged 21+) have fallen, in line with trends elsewhere in the UK, demand from Scottish school leavers remains strong, with an increase of 13% compared with 2020. The application rate for 18 year-olds has also remained above pre-pandemic levels at 33.5%, an increase of 1.6pp from the January 2020 figure.

In support of efforts to widen access to higher education, the report also shows growing interest in a university education from school leavers from Scotland’s most deprived areas. Scottish domiciled applicants from SIMD quintile 1 make up 16.4% of all Scottish domiciled applicants to UK providers, while the application rate for 18 year-olds from SIMD quintile 1 has risen to 19.6%, an increase of 1.9pp since 2020.

At subject level, the report shows both a recalibration of demand following heightened interest during the pandemic but also a decline across nursing, midwifery, teacher training, and medicine and dentistry.

Scotland’s universities continue to attract students from overseas, although demand appears to be levelling off with an increase in Non-EU applicants of only 1% year on year. This could, in part, be attributed to the re-opening of the international higher education market, with particular competition coming from Australia which has re-opened its borders following COVID lockdowns. Although applicants from the EU have declined, the reduction is much smaller than last year (-11% compared with -27%), suggesting that the rate of decrease is levelling off.

Further details can be found on the UCAS website.