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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 17:56 GMT
Scotland entices English students
University students
Applications from Scottish students are falling
The number of English applicants to Scottish universities is continuing to increase, research has found.

Figures from admissions service Ucas also showed that the number of Scots seeking university places north of the border was continuing to fall.

The findings are expected to be closely studied by ministers for any sign that "fee refugees" from England are looking northwards for further education.

Universities in England can now charge students top-up tuition fees.

Figures last month showed that although there was a record 7.25% increase UK-wide in the number of applicants accepted by universities last autumn, Scotland bucked the trend and was the only part of the UK to show an overall fall.

The latest statistics, on the numbers applying for university places before the 15 January deadline, show that the total number applying to universities and colleges in England fell by 3.7% to 332,768 while applications to Scottish institutions rose by 1.6% to 72,914.

Fiona Hyslop
Scots students aren't losing out to English students - they're losing out full stop
Fiona Hyslop
SNP spokeswoman

A further breakdown of the figures showed Scotland had become more attractive to English students looking for a place to study.

The number of English applicants seeking a place at English universities and colleges fell by 4.5% to 270,872 - but the number seeking places at Scottish institutions rose by 1.9% to 28,338.

Meanwhile, the number of Scottish applicants seeking places at Scottish institutions fell by 1.9% to 26,189.

The number of Scots seeking places at English institutions also fell by 3.5% to 4,376.

Ucas officials said the figures did not give the final picture as applications would continue right up to the start of the university term this autumn.

However, the Scottish National Party said the figures showed Scots were becoming more reluctant to go to university.

'Monitor situation'

Education spokeswoman Fiona Hyslop said: "Scots students aren't losing out to English students - they're losing out full stop.

"The fact that we're seeing the biggest decrease in applications from those over 25, those most likely to be put off study by the expense, suggests the massive debts incurred as a result of student loans are a major factor in discouraging Scots from applying to university."

The Scottish Executive acknowledged a drop in Scottish applications was cause for "concern" but said it was too early to draw conclusions.

A spokesman said: "Scotland already enjoys a high participation rate in higher education with almost 50% of young people participating in higher education before their 21st birthday."

He added: "Application figures will vary slightly year to year, but there must be no suggestion that Scottish students are being squeezed out in preference to students from England and overseas.

"The situation will be closely monitored."

Fall in Scottish student numbers
19 Jan 06 |  Scotland
Fewer Scots set to study at home
19 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Tuition fees rise for non-Scots
20 Jul 05 |  Scotland
State schools' student share fall
21 Sep 05 |  Education


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