The number of English students coming to Scottish universities has dropped by almost 11 per cent, with many apparently fearing that they have no chance against a flood of Scots attracted by student support reforms.
Figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service reveal that the number of English applicants accepted by Scottish higher education institutions has fallen by 10.7 per cent, from 3,719 to 3,321.
Lindsay Paterson, professor of educational policy at Edinburgh University, said this followed a slump in English applications. This was part of the trend of living closer to home to save money, he said. But English applicants might be discouraged from applying to Scotland because they thought it would be more difficult to get in.
"People adjust their applications partly on their estimation of their chance of success," Professor Paterson said.
Prospective students might not apply north of the border because they think they would be "crowded out" by the well-publicised increase in the number of Scots going into higher education following the abolition of tuition fees and the restoration of grants.
There is a 2.3 per cent rise in the number of Scots going to Scottish institutions, and Professor Paterson said this could be because Scottish school leavers were doing particularly well.