A RECORD number of Scottish students had their application to university accepted, according to new official figures.

More than 36,500 people resident north of the Border gained a place at institutions throughout the UK this academic year, an increase of more than 850 or 2.4 per cent – while all other UK nations experienced a fall.

The figures were released by the University and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) in its first End of Cycle Report 2017, and showed accepted applications to Scottish higher education institutions were up 1.7 per cent this year.

Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “It is great to see Scotland is bucking the trend across the UK, with more of our prospective students securing a place at university. This follows on from the record numbers last year.

“It shows that our education system is supporting an increasing number of people to access higher education – giving them the skills they need to succeed.

“This is also another record year for Scotland’s universities, with the highest ever number of applicants accepted to study here. It is testament to the fact that Scotland remains a destination of choice for students, due in no small part to the reputation for excellence that our institutions have worked hard to achieve.”

However, the figures also showed a decline of 4.4 per cent in applications from EU nationals, with Brexit cited as the likely cause.

SNP MSP James Dornan, convener of Holyrood’s education committee, said: “With five Scottish universities ranked in the top 200 in the world, it’s little surprise that Scottish universities have welcomed the highest ever number of applicants coming to study.

“However, after years of steady growth in the number of EU students choosing to come and study in the UK, it is extremely worrying that fewer and fewer are choosing UK universities since the Brexit vote last year.

“This is bad news for our universities and for the wider Scottish economy, which is boosted by hundreds of millions of pounds generated by EU students each year.”

Research by the umbrella group Universities UK found EU students generated £414.1 million for the Scottish economy in 2011-12, creating 3743 jobs.

The Ucas figures also revealed that despite a drop in the number of EU students, the number of overseas student had risen.

Ucas said 2090 more international, non-EU students applied to start undergraduate courses at UK institutions in 2017, an increase of 2.8 per cent on last year.

Sarah Stevens, head of policy at the Russell Group, which represents 24 leading universities, said: “It is a very positive message that so many talented students from across the globe continue to want to come and study here, attracted by the world-class teaching and research that our universities provide.

“We will be closely monitoring the situation regarding applications from EU countries.”