Meanwhile there was an 11.2% drop in EU applicants (40,790 – 36,205) for British university places.
When the figures are viewed by country within the UK, Scottish universities saw a 24.7% jump in the number from non-EU countries (8,353 – 10,418), as well as a 6% increase from the European Union (15,938 – 16,902). Total applications rose 0.2%. As non-EU fees are not proportionately any cheaper in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, improved awareness of Scottish universities abroad may have been a factor.
A spokesperson from Universities Scotland told The PIE News: “Scotland has been working to increase its profile as a distinct destination within the UK and offers the internationally recognised four-year degree.
“UCAS figures indicate that demand for Scottish universities remains strong across the UK as well as from overseas and we’re delighted that students around the world recognise the high quality of education on offer here in Scotland.”
A key differentiator, and driver of this year’s growth, is Scotland’s free university system
It is worth noting that application figures always diverge from final enrolments. The UCAS figures also relate to undergraduate study only, and a higher proportion of non-EU students study at postgraduate level (for which application numbers are not available).
However, the figures will support Scotland’s ambitions to be seen as a distinct study destination. A key differentiator, and driver of this year’s growth, is Scotland’s free university system, which is also open to the rest of the EU (though by a quirk of EU law not to UK students). By contrast, the rest of the UK lifted its university fees cap to £9,000 per annum last year, which may explain the drop in EU interest.