HIGHER passes were down slightly this year but a record number of Scottish pupils have been given a university place on exam results day.
Scottish students passed a total of 152,701 Highers in 2016, with an attainment rate of 77.2% – down on the 156,000 passes in 2015 but still the second highest number on record.
It is the first year that all schools and colleges have offered the new Higher to candidates following last year’s phased introduction.
Last year, the attainment rate for the new Higher was 79.2%.
Meanwhile, as of midnight, 28,300 Scottish applicants had been accepted to higher education so far this year, up 5% compared to results day in 2015. Almost all – 27,400 – are going to Scottish universities and colleges.
Just over 140,000 students north of the border received their results today – down from 143,000 in 2015.
Figures from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) also showed the pass rate for the National 4 was 93.2%, with 114,635 passes, while pupils achieved 234,160 passes at National 5 level, resulting in a success rate of 79.4%
Advanced Higher passes rose to 19,443, with a pass rate of 81.7%.
There were also significant increases in the number of students taking and passing qualifications related to wider life and work skills, with attainment of National Certificates at SCQF level 6 – each of which attracts the same number of credit points as three Highers – up by 23% to 4,920.
Education Secretary John Swinney said: “This has been another successful year for Scotland’s young people and I would like to congratulate them on all their hard work and achievement.
“Receiving results can be a nerve-wracking time and everyone who has received positive results today can be extremely proud of their efforts.
“Today’s results show that Scotland’s learners continue to perform very well, with the second highest number of Higher passes on record despite a fall in the size of the S5 and S6 year groups.
“This year is only the second time in history that we have seen more than 150,000 Higher passes, up from around 112,000 just ten years ago.”
SQA chief executive and Scotland’s chief examining officer Dr Janet Brown said:”This is the first year candidates will have been offered the full range ofNational Courses as part of Curriculum for Excellence.
“The new qualifications are performing well and the results clearly are enabling young people to transition between the levels and develop a wider range of skills.”
Mary Curnock Cook, Ucas chief executive, said: “Congratulations to everyone who has secured a place at their chosen university or college in Scotland.
“These figures are an encouraging snapshot of Scottish higher education, particularly as a large majority of the country’s applicants are placed by this stage.
“Anyone without a place, for whatever reason, should stay positive and consider all the options, including clearing.
“My advice is to call universities for a discussion about the courses you’re interested in and remember that the Ucas website has lots of information to help.”
NUS Scotland president Vonnie Sandlan said: “It’s fantastic to see yet another year of record exam passes and, coming with that, the highest level of entry to university in Scotland ever recorded.
“We shouldn’t just be pleased by these results but hugely encouraged by the good news it is for our students, universities, and Scotland as a whole.
“What’s important now is ensuring that we’re able to follow through on these great results and that that all those young people with the potential to succeed in higher education have the opportunity to do so.”
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