Universities Scotland comments on latest UCAS figures

Commenting on the figures released today, Professor Andrea Nolan, Convener of Universities Scotland and Principal of Edinburgh Napier University said:

“This is the data we all want to see. There’s more to do but there is a lot to feel encouraged by in today’s figures. The number of students from the poorest 20 per cent of neighbourhoods getting a place at university is at a 10-year high and the gap between the richest and poorest 18 year old students getting a place is at a ten year low. The fact that there is still a gap is a problem but we’re working hard to close it; the number of SIMD20 students has increased by 75 per cent over the last ten years compared to an increase of just 12 per cent for students from the most advantaged areas.*

“I’m really pleased to see a 3 per cent increase in students from the most deprived areas of Scotland getting a place to start university this year. This is evidence of universities’ focus and hard work in creating opportunities for students who face a number of obstacles. Students from the most deprived quintile have seen the biggest, positive increase in placed applicants this year, and amongst 18 year olds SIMD20 is the only quintile to see a positive increase in the number of placed applicants.  

“It’s particularly encouraging as it comes despite a drop in the number of students from the most deprived neighbourhoods applying to university. In June, universities were facing a 4 per cent drop in the number of SIMD20 18 year olds applying and a 1 per cent drop in SIMD20 applicants across all age groups.

“To make a fundamental and lasting change to the socio-economic mix of university students, we need to see a big increase in the number of well-qualified applicants from the poorest areas of Scotland choosing to apply to university. The next year will see some further action from Scotland’s universities to bring more clarity and consistency to the process of applying; this should be of benefit to all students but particularly those with no experience of university in their family.”



UCAS data released on 20 September can be found here.

  • * the figures in the first paragraph to one decimal place are 74.6% and 12.2% respectively.
  • Today’s data looks at ‘placed applicants’ to university to start in the 2018/19 academic year.
  • This is not the last data set that UCAS will publish on placed applicants to start university in 2018/19. The final cycle data will be published in January 2019. There may be some final adjustments in the figures. However, at this point in the admissions cycle, the academic year has already started, clearing has closed, and most applicants will have been placed for 2018/19.

UCAS data from June can be found here. See table I.13.4 & I.13.3

  • There was a -4% drop in the number of 18 year old Scottish-domiciled applicants in Q1 (SIMD20) for entry to university in 2018, relative to 2017. This is drop of 80 students.
  • Scotland is facing a temporary demographic dip in the number of 18 year olds, which is reflected in a fall in the number of 18 year old applicants from all quintiles (Q1-Q5). However, 18 year old applicants from Q5 fell at -3% relative to -4% fall in Q1.  Q1 applicants were the only quintile of 18 year olds to see a significant increase in placed applicants despite the fall in numbers at the application stage.
  • For all age groups, there was a 1% drop in the number of Scottish-domiciled Q1 applicants. This was a drop of 50 students.