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UCAS update 23 September and the effect of tighter capping of places in Scotland

September 23, 2014

UCAS has published updated figures for acceptances into higher education as at 11 September this year (see 23 September 2014 documents here).

This looks at the figures by year of entry ie it compares how many people will be starting a course this autumn, compared to last year, bringing together those who have just been accepted and those who  were awarded a place last year but deferred entry.

This gives slightly different results to the figures published up to this point, which have been for those awarded a place in the latest application round, regardless of whether they would be starting immediately or taking a year out.

UCAS notes that:

The six largest (numerically) changes by domicile group and institution country are:
English domiciled to English institutions, +12,560 (+4 per cent)
EU (excluding UK) domiciled to English institutions, +1,530 (+8 per cent)
Not EU domiciled to English institutions, +1,450 (+5 per cent)
Wales domiciled to English institutions, +660 (+9 per cent)
Scotland domiciled to Scottish institutions, +560 (+2 per cent)
England domiciled to Scottish institutions, +460 (+11 per cent)

Note: the rises here are the largest by absolute number, not percentage.  It is likely EU students to Scotland are increasing at well over 2%, but closer examination of the detailed data will be needed to verify that.

The 2% rise in Scottish domiciled students in Scotland signals the effect of the cap on places available under the policy of free tuition, compared to the larger rises for English students (4%) and for Welsh (not given here, but the scale of increase in cross border numbers means it will be well above 2%).

Welsh students leaving Wales still benefit from a portable fee grant, so this group in effect has access to the whole UK HE system on equal, lower-fee terms.  Crossing a border also has no effect for high-fee paying English students, beyond the cost of an extra year in Scotland: the growth in English students in Scotland is not consistent with the view that students are necessarily deterred by higher costs.

UCAS also notes that:

By country of institution, acceptances to the 2014-15 entry year, and change compared to the 2013-14 entry year:
England: 422,020, +16,240 (+4 per cent)
Northern Ireland: 11,060, +190 (+2 per cent)
Scotland: 41,910, +1,440 (+4 per cent)
Wales: 24,750, +730 (+3 per cent)

Scottish institutions are growing as fast as those in England because of their recruitment of rUK, EU and overseas students, whereas the figure for England correlates closely with the growth in English-domiciled  students.  Wales is also a net importer of rUK students.

These figures bring out how important it is to be clear about the difference between growth from the perspective of institutions and from the perspective of Scottish students – the two are becoming significantly different, even though the reporting does not always reflect that.

UCAS also provides figures for the increases by location of institution excluding non-EU overseas:

UK and EU acceptances to the 2014-15 entry year (and change compared to the 2013-14 entry year) by country of institution are:
England: 388,830, +14,800 (+4 per cent)
Northern Ireland: 10,800, +150 (+1 per cent)
Scotland: 38,580, +1,210 (+3 per cent)
Wales: 23,310, +710 (+3 per cent)


More analysis of the figures to follow.


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