- A slight recovery in the number of people applying for university or college was announced today.
Figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service showed a 1.1 per cent increase in the number of people who had applied for full-time places by May 16, compared with a year ago.
Ucas chief executive Tony Higgins said: "The number of people applying for higher education is well up on last year, which ended as a record year."
More students were applying for deferred places, Dr Higgins added.
He said that students "want to earn some money before starting their courses to help towards their living costs".
Most of the growth is in Scotland, where Scottish students do not have to pay up-front tuition fees and, from 2001, can apply for means-tested grants.
Overall, Scotland attracted 3.4 per cent more applicants this year.
The number of Scottish students applying to Scottish institutions was up 3.8 per cent. This group shunned universities and colleges in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (down 13.5 per cent, 3.3. per cent and 14.8 per cent respectively).
St Andrews University remains popular - the number of people applying is up 44 per cent - with Prince William due to start there next term.
London's fall from favour has continued. Applications to five institutions have plummeted by more than 10 per cent. They are: Royal Holloway, University of London; Goldsmiths College, University of London; Imperial College, London; London Guildhall University; and the University of North London.
Guildhall and North London are intending to merge in September 2002.
• Vice-chancellors have called for the reintroduction of targeted maintenance schemes. Baroness Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK, said: "We need to make sure that the new types of students we are seeking to reach - the most disadvantaged groups in society - can be sustained financially as well as academically."