A record number of full time first degree students at Scottish universities were from the most deprived areas in Scotland last year. 

New figures show that, in 2017/18, 15.6% of students entering university were from the 20% most deprived areas. This is 0.4% short of the Government’s target for 2021. 

Last year also saw an increase in the total number of Scottish students enrolling in Scottish universities. 

The statistics, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), show the latest progress in the drive to widen access to higher education.

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said:

“These statistics highlight the good progress being made on widening access to higher education. I’m pleased to see more Scots going to university here and a record increase in entrants from our most deprived areas.

“Combined with recent UCAS statistics, this shows demonstrable progress towards giving every young person in Scotland an equal chance of success, no matter their background or circumstance.

“It is also great to see a record number of enrolments and an increased number of qualifications achieved in 2017/18. All of this speaks to the level of excellence found across our higher education institutions.”


Between 2016/17 and 2017/18:

  • Total Scottish domiciled students (undergraduate and postgraduate) at Scottish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) increased by 1.2% to 160,875
  • The number of students (undergraduate and postgraduate) at Scottish HEIs increased by 2.1% to 247,110
  • Entrants (undergraduate and postgraduate) to Scottish HEIs increased by 3.2% to 104,520
  • EU and non-EU domiciled enrolments to Scottish HEIs increased by 1.7% and 5.1% respectively
  • Qualifiers from Scottish HEIs increased by 2.4% to 76,595

Following the Commission on Widening Access, a target was set that, by 2021, 16% of students entering university will be from Scotland’s most deprived backgrounds, increasing to 20% by 2030. At 15.6% for 2017/18, this is just 0.4 percentage points off the 2021 target.


Scottish Government

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