England Overtakes Scotland in University Take-up

England now has proportionally more students applying to its universities than Scotland, despite the introduction of fees

Scotland has lost its lead over England in attracting young applicants to university, new figures show.

The statistics from Universities UK, which represents higher education institutions, published today, show Scotland led with 406 applications per thousand of its 17-year old population in 2004, compared to England's 400 applicants. But in 2008, England is way ahead with 475 applications, with Scotland trailing at 425.

Scotland's increase over the four-year period was also less than Wales, which saw a rise of 45 applicants per thousand of its 17-year old population, compared to Scotland's 19, and less than Northern Ireland which rose by 21 to 577.

Scottish universities have expressed concern and confusion over the lacklustre growth in young applicants to the nation's institutions. They say it is strange that applicants in England have risen above Scotland at a time when the former has introduced fees.

A spokeswoman said, "It is encouraging to see that the proportion of 17-year-olds applying to Scottish universities has continued to increase. However, over the next 20 years the proportion of 17-year-olds in Scotland is expected to decline significantly. If Scotland is to achieve sustainable economic growth in the global economy, it must have the right people and skills to compete. Other countries like Finland and Sweden are achieving higher education participation rates of over 70 per cent. All the projections show that growth will occur in occupations that are high in skill and at managerial and professional level. It is therefore vital to Scotland's future prosperity that we
encourage and inspire people to go into university".

The University and College Union in Scotland suggested the dramatic decrease in the number of English students applying to Scottish universities this year may have also contributed to the slowed growth.

"It is of concern. Scotland's demographic problems could also be
contributing to the figures."

Source: Guardian.co.uk

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