A 50,000 rise in applications to Scottish universities has been described as “assuring” for the sector.
Latest statistics from application body UCAS show 504,740 applications were made to Scottish institutions before the January deadline, increasing from 452,550 last year.
The figures also showed a 15% increase in the number of young people from the most deprived backgrounds, with 21.1% of those from the most impoverished areas now sending applications for university.
With the ongoing pandemic, and the effects of Brexit on the sector not yet fully known, Universities Scotland director Alastair Sim welcomed the news.
He said: “Application data at this point in the cycle gives an indication about the demand for higher education, and it looks assuring for Scottish universities.
“Students clearly see a value at studying in Scotland from across the world all the way to our most deprived areas.
“We are taking nothing for granted as applications don’t necessarily transfer into acceptances especially when there is a great deal of volatility regarding students and the pandemic.”
According to Universities Scotland, the drop in EU students – which saw 40% fewer apply this year – was not as bad as first expected, while applications from outside the EU rose by 27%.
The cohort starting this September would be the first batch of EU students not to be given free tuition by the Scottish Government.
Mr Sim said: “The drop in EU student numbers is not as dramatic as many feared although we don’t know how this will impact individual universities and courses.
“This makes the need for scholarships for EU students from the Scottish Government even more vital.”