Scottish intake avoids last-minute surge

January 2, 1998

There is no evidence of a dramatic surge in Scottish higher education intakes this session, according to provisional figures from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council.

This runs counter to the widespread belief in a steep rise in numbers caused by prospective students trying to beat changes in student support. Some academics speculate that it is less common for Scots than English to have a gap year between school and higher education. Scottish institutions have also tended to heed SHEFC's warnings of financial penalties for overshooting or undershooting targets.

David Newall, director of planning at Strathclyde University, said: "There was some additional interest this year from people who wanted to come before fees were introduced. But the government has made it clear that its policy is consolidation of student numbers, so universities have very little flexibility to increase numbers."

SHEFC's figures, which underpin calculations for its main teaching grant, cover the overall numbers of students eligible for funding rather than simply the new intake. They show that there are 118,977 students in Scottish institutions this year, just a fraction above the government's planned number and just 1.3 per cent over the comparable "early" statistics compiled this time last year. Undergraduate numbers have risen by 1.5 per cent.

While SHEFC stresses that the numbers may be revised, they are unlikely to change much.

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