Record number of students in higher education in Scotland

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A record number of students went into higher education in Scotland last year, new figures reveal.

There were 296,695 higher education students in Scottish universities and colleges in 2017-18, up by 4,075 on the previous year.

The 1.4% increase was largely due to a rise in students going to Scottish universities, which reached a record high of 104,520 students.

However, the number of new entrants to colleges saw a reduction of 1,195 (-3.1%) since 2016-17, accounting for 26.3% of all higher education starters in Scotland.

In 2017-18, females made up 57.4% of the total number of higher education students, with the proportion increasing every year since 2010-11.

The new figures from the Scottish Funding Council also show a record 37,410 Scottish-domiciled students entering the system last year at first-degree level.

The report, which looks at the provision of higher education and student attainment over a ten-year period, found that the number of students gaining a qualification reached an all-time high.

Of the 104,160 students leaving university or college with a higher education qualification, almost 67% achieved graduate-level qualifications.

Karen Watt, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “The good news from these figures is that more students living in Scotland are benefitting from higher education courses than ever before.

“For students graduating from our world-leading universities and colleges this means better life chances and career prospects.

“For Scotland’s economy it means a more highly-skilled and adaptable workforce.”

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead added: “Scotland has a world-class higher education sector and I am pleased to see a record number of both higher education students and qualifiers last year.

“From UCAS data, we know that the number of Scots winning a place at university is at a record high, as is those winning a place at university from the most deprived areas, testament to our commitment to maintain free education and widen access to university.

“Over 104,000 people left Scottish universities and colleges with qualifications, up 2.4% on the previous year and 24% since 2008-09. Of those, around two thirds were graduate level.”

He added: “Scotland has the most highly qualified population in Europe and people come from around the world to learn here.

“We want to attract talent to study – and stay – here for decades to come, so we need the UK Government to give Scotland a post-study work route that allows universities and colleges to continue to retain talent.”

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