Record number of Scots get in to university

Written by Tom Freeman on 9 August 2017 in News

More students from Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas successfully gain a place at university on results day, according to UCAS

Exam - credit Eric Castro

The total number of students from Scotland getting a place at a Scottish university hit a new record of 27,830 as exam results was revealed across the country.

The figure is around 400 more than last year.

The figures from UCAS came on the day of the release of Scottish Higher and Advanced Higher exam results.

They also show the number of Scots from the most deprived areas gaining access to university has risen to 4,150, a 13 per cent increase since last year.


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The largest increase in those going to university is among mature students, with a 9 per cent increase on learners aged 25 and above.

Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland said the new entrants would be joining "world leading institutions" in Scotland.

 “It’s highly encouraging to see an uplift on the number of students from the most deprived areas attending university. We are seeing consistent, sustainable progress being made, demonstrating how committed our institutions are to ensure access to university is fairer," he said.

 "We also recognise there is more work, both in this sector and societally, that can be done to ensure that people of all backgrounds can apply for university.

“We are also delighted to see an increase in the number of Scots aged 25 and older who have been accepted to university, proving that universities offer opportunities for people of all ages.”

NUS Scotland President Luke Humberstone said students from deprived areas needed the support to ensure they can remain in study.

“What’s important now is ensuring that all students have the support they need to build on these great results and succeed in higher education, accessing all the opportunities it can present," he said.

"The Scottish Government-commissioned student support review is currently looking at these issues – and it's vital that the opportunity is seized to ensure that all students have access to the financial support they need to stay in education."

The Higher pass rate dipped slightly from 77.2 per cent last year to 77 per cent.

While the pass rate for National 4 and National 5 exams remained consistent with last year - 92.8 per cent and 79.5 per cent respectively, the number of pupils taking the National 4 qualification dropped significantly as understanding of the new system grew among teaching staff.

Meanwhile the number of pupils taking practical work-based qualifications increased.

Education Secretary and Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the results showed the Curriculum for Excellence was working for young people.

On a visit to Bannerman High School in Glasgow, he said: “I would like to congratulate our young people, and their teachers, for their hard work and effort. The whole country should rightly be proud of the excellence and achievement in Scottish education demonstrated by these results."

However Scottish Labour's Iain Gray said the results were despite Scottish Government reforms, not because of them.

“The reality is that these results have been achieved by pupils and teachers in spite of SNP government cuts to education budgets, teacher numbers and support staff," he said.

“Meanwhile John Swinney presses ahead with his plans to centralise the running of Scottish schools and strip powers from councils, plans which will do nothing to improve on these results."

Gray pointed to the fact there were drops in the numbers of pupils sitting exams in the arts and languages.

And Scotland's largest teaching union the EIS said teachers remained concerned about workload.

“Scotland’s teachers have again gone that extra mile to support their students’ learning, despite the enormous workload pressures faced by the profession," said General Secretary Larry Flanagan.

"The EIS expects to see a significant reduction in workload over the forthcoming session and will hold both Scottish Government and the SQA to account on delivering the promised reduction in the assessment burden on both staff and pupils."

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