According to the latest UCAS 2017 figures, only Scotland saw an increase in the number of its students accepted for entry to UK universities. The figures are:
N Ireland -2.9%
Thought this increase only brings Scotland’s share of UCAS acceptances up to 8% (36 500) of the total and the same as our share of the population, UCAS notes point out:
‘In Scotland, there is a substantial section of higher education provision not included in UCAS’ figures. This is mostly full-time higher education provided in further education colleges, which represents around one third of young full-time undergraduate study in Scotland, and this proportion varies by geography and background within Scotland. Accordingly, figures on entry rates or total recruitment in Scotland reflect only the part of full-time undergraduate study that uses UCAS.’
This, unique to Scotland, arrangement of FE/HE articulation whereby students can begin, at lower living and/or travel costs, in their local FE college for the first and/or second year of a degree before transferring directly into second or third year of a partner university considerably increases the access opportunities to student from deprived areas. This system also, commonly, has the advantage of allowing these students to leave after year one with HNC or after year 2 with HND, qualifications which are recognised by employers. This may be a factor in the significantly lower youth unemployment in Scotland than in rUK. See:
Given that around 33% of entrants to HE in Scotland start out this way, this suggests that entry to HE from Scotland, is higher per capita than the rUK figure at around 12% of the total from, only 8% of the population.