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The latest deadline data from June 30, UCAS’ final date to apply for up to five courses at the same time, show that, discounting the two years impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for Scottish universities has increased by 2%, with 2,100 more applicants to Scottish institutions compared to 2020.

While there has been a decline in applications from Scottish domiciled mature students, likely driven by the cost-of-living crisis, higher interest rates, as well as a buoyant job market, demand from school leavers remains strong, with 34% of 18-year-olds in Scotland’s population making an application, up 1.6pp from 2020.

The data also point to an increase in applications from those in Scotland’s most deprived areas compared with pre-pandemic levels, with one in five Scottish 18-year-olds from SIMD20 areas having made an application this cycle, a 2.1pp increase compared with 2020. Applications from SIMD20 areas account for 16.8% of Scottish domiciled applications, a 0.2pp increase year on year and a record high.

At subject level, the data suggest that we are making positive steps towards meeting future skills needs for jobs in AI and computing. Demand from Scottish applicants remains strong for courses in computing, engineering and technology, and mathematical sciences, with applications to the latter seeing a 14% increase this year.

Commenting on the data, SFC Director of Policy, Insight and Analytics, Martin Boyle, said:

“Today’s report from UCAS shows that Scotland’s universities continue to attract students from across the globe, including those from our most disadvantaged backgrounds with the proportion of applications from SIMD20 areas at a record high.

“With the changing world of work, it is particularly encouraging to see an increase in students applying for courses in mathematical sciences which reflects the continued high demand for these graduates in the workforce.”