Student numbers in Scotland are Wales are increasing - bucking the trend in England and Northern Ireland.
Student numbers have increased in Scotland and Wales
Lecturers' leaders claim the rise is due to the decision not to bring in tuition fees.
Students in Scotland pay a smaller endowment charge, which the government plans to scrap.
There has been a 3% increase in first year students in Scotland and a 4% rise in Wales, where fees for Welsh students have also been rejected.
In England and Northern Ireland, where students now pay fees of up to £3,000 a year, enrolment is down 2% and 9% respectively.
Scottish enrolment figures are affected by entrants from Europe and beyond. Their numbers have expanded enormously in recent years.
The Scottish Government said the increase in the number of overseas and postgraduate students was due to Scotland's international reputation in education.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: "It is hardly surprising that the number of enrolments at universities where top-up fees are being charged has fallen, or that enrolments have increased at institutions in countries not charging them.
"Anyone who really believes that charging more for degrees is the way to encourage students to apply to university is living in a dream world.
"Access to a university education must be based on a student's aptitude and willingness to learn, not what they are willing, or able, to pay."