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Increase in number of Scottish students accepted into university on SQA results day

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28,970 students from Scotland have been accepted into university or college through UCAS today, up 220 on Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) results day last year, and despite a fall in the overall number of 18 year olds in the population.

Of those accepted, 28,240 will be studying in Scotland – an increase from 27,880 in 2019.

Students across Scotland are getting their qualification results this morning, with many seeing their place at university confirmed by UCAS. For those without a place or not holding an offer but still keen to start an undergraduate course, UCAS’ new personalised Clearing Plus service is helping match them to the right course.

Currently, 23.9% per cent of all 18 year olds in Scotland are due to enter higher education this year (12,700 students), up 0.6 percentage points, and a new record for SQA results day.

The number of 18 year olds from Scotland’s most deprived areas with a confirmed place has risen to a new high of 1,300 – meaning 11.9% of all young people belonging to this group have been accepted into university or college, and the gap to students from the least deprived areas has narrowed to its lowest ever point (a ratio of 3.29). The number of students (of all ages) accepted from the most deprived areas has also reached a new high of 4,360, with the gap to those accepted from the least deprived areas also reducing to the smallest ever ratio of 1.89. 

The number of Scottish students accepted on nursing courses in Scotland has increased by 11.6%, to reach a record 3,040.

The number of students accepted into Scottish universities from outside the EU has increased to a record 2,360, while the number of EU students accepted has fallen by 15% to 2,670 – although more students from the EU are still holding an offer that is yet to be confirmed than last year.

Acceptance numbers will rise in the coming days and weeks as more students’ places are confirmed, particularly those studying qualifications where results are not published today. 

All of today’s statistics can be found on the UCAS  interactive dashboard, allowing users to visualise and tailor the reporting to their own specification. 

Applicants can now sign in to Track to see if they have been accepted. Anyone can look for a place in Clearing on the UCAS website, with 28,000 courses available for Scottish students. 

Last year, a record 1,950 people from Scotland were accepted through Clearing, with 575 of those applying after 30 June and submitting their application directly into Clearing (also a record). 

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive, said: ‘Congratulations to students across Scotland receiving their results today. The increase in people with a confirmed place, especially the record number from Scotland’s most deprived areas and those choosing to study nursing, should be particularly celebrated, with their achievements providing their passport into higher education. 

‘Universities and colleges are ready to support students in making the transition into higher education during this, the most challenging of years, with appropriate plans in place to start teaching in earnest, and student safety their paramount consideration. 

‘For anyone without a place, Clearing Plus is giving each student a personalised list of courses with vacancies, that they can easily send an expression of interest to. Every course with places available is also listed on’ 

Sector Response to Scottish Exams Results Day:

Commenting, Matt Crilly NUS Scotland President, said:

“Today’s a big day for learners across Scotland, at schools and colleges, who’ve been patiently waiting on their results during the uncertainty and anxiety caused by Covid-19. I’d like to offer my congratulations to all those who’ve received their results today in the toughest of circumstances.

“We remain concerned that many students have been marked down from their predicted grades due to the moderation process. I’d urge anyone who didn’t get the results they’d hope for the speak to a dedicated advisor by calling Skills Development Scotland’s exam helpline. And, for those wishing to discuss an appeal – a process which is free this year – they can speak to their lecturer or teacher. 

“We welcome the modest increase in the proportion of students from Scotland’s most deprived communities gaining a place at university. Fantastic progress has been made to widen access in recent years – with more students from poorer backgrounds getting a place at university. We cannot see this progress undermined as a result of Covid-19.”

Mr Crilly added:

“We’re pleased to see that Scotland’s reputation as an attractive place to study persists and that we’re attracting talented students from around the world, with the number of non-EU international students getting a place at Scottish universities at record levels.

“International students – who apply and secure university places independently from Scottish domiciled students – contribute immeasurably to our campuses and communities. In the current circumstances it is essential that we ensure that Scotland is a welcoming place for them to study and live.

“However, it’s deeply concerning to see the number of EU students applying to Scottish universities plummet this year. NUS Scotland will continue to make the case to protect all students from the disastrous impact of the UK government’s hard Brexit agenda.”

Commenting on this year’s exam results, a spokesperson for Colleges Scotland, said:

“All students across Scotland receiving their exam results today should be proud of their efforts and we congratulate them on their achievements.  Campuses may have been closed since March because of the pandemic, but colleges have remained open using virtual and remote learning to support students to complete their courses. 

“Colleges are the number one choice for so many people and we look forward to welcoming all the new and returning students back to campuses when the new term starts.  During their time at college, students will progress towards their future careers by learning new skills, achieving qualifications, and gaining hands-on experience of the workplace. 

“This year will be different due to social distancing measures and a blended learning approach, however, colleges have been working hard to ensure that they can deliver high quality learning and teaching safely, in line with Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland guidance, and ensure that students can still have a great learning experience whilst they gain new skills and industry-recognised qualifications.

“This includes those students whose learning experiences have been disrupted as consequence of the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown period, and who will be returning to college to complete their qualifications, and colleges remain committed to supporting those individuals on their learning journeys and on their progression into further study and/or the workplace.    

“For those who have not yet decided the next steps of their journey, we would encourage them to contact their nearest college for information and advice.  Colleges offer a wide range of courses and opportunities, there is still time to apply.  Find your local college at”

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