Shunning the Scots

February 12, 1999

Incorrect recruitment figures were published for Heriot-Watt University ("North hit as applications fall", THES, January 22). The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service figure of a fall of 21 per cent was actually 15.9 per cent and, in any case, relates to the period before UCAS processed the large backlog of applicants.

The position on January 28, after UCAS had processed all the applications submitted by December 15 1998 is that home and European Union applications to Heriot-Watt are down by 5.7 per cent, while applications to Scottish universities as a whole have fallen by 4.9 per cent. Conversely, home and EU applications to UK universities outside Scotland are down by only 0.9 per cent.

There can be little doubt that the discriminatory tuition fee for students from the rest of the UK and, above all, an extra year of maintenance costs with no grant support are important factors influencing the greater decline in Scottish applications. This is underlined by the number of people making at least one application to a university or college in Scotland, which has fallen by 6.5 per cent from England, 12.8 per cent from Wales and 4 per cent from Northern Ireland. The smaller decline of only 1.7 per cent from other EU countries, whose students are not liable for the extra year of fees in Scotland, substantiates this interpretation.

P. N. O'Farrell Assistant principal, Heriot-Watt University

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