THE number of students who have signed up for Scottish universities is marginally down on last year while figures for the rest of the UK show an increase.
Ross Hayman, a spokesman for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, said: "We do not believe it's connected with tuition fees. Last year, numbers in Scotland were up and other countries down."
The figures show a 2.2 per cent fall in students across the UK attending Scottish institutions. But Mr Hayman said: "The difference is 700 out of 31,000. It is not significant and the figures are not final. Students will still be entering courses in October."
Henry McLeish, Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister, said last year's figure was a record and this year's small drop was not unexpected. The economic difficulties in the Far East had also impacted on numbers.