The score awarded to Highers and Advanced Highers by the universities admissions service has been upgraded, strengthening the position of Scottish students applying to universities south of the border in competition with students with A levels.
The new tariff for Advanced Highers at A, B and C will go up by 10 points from 2010. Highers also go up - A from 72 to 80, B from 60 to 65, and C from 48 to 50.
The changes follow an independent review of the UCAS tariffs. Although Scottish qualifications received a significant boost vis-a-vis English A levels in 1999, concerns have remained since then that Highers and Advanced Highers were not receiving sufficient recognition.
SQA chief executive Janet Brown said: "The UCAS review has been rigorous and searching but Scottish qualifications have come out of the exercise well. The independent assessment and expert groups which conducted the detailed analysis of our qualifications came to the view that insufficient tariff points were being allocated to Higher and, particularly, Advanced Higher."
Judith Sischy, chief executive of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) and Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland, issued a joint statement: "The increase in the tariff for the Scottish Higher and Advanced Higher awards reflects the depth, rigour and independent learning that they offer."
Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, said: "I welcome the higher scores which have been awarded as a result of this review, as good news for hard-working Scottish students and their teachers. These changes will ensure that their efforts are more appropriately recognised when applying for university courses, either in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK."
The upgraded scores are likely to make little difference to students applying for places in Scottish higher education institutions.
A Universities Scotland spokesman said: "Most Scottish universities still give entry rates expressed in terms of Higher passes, for example that an applicant needs 2 As and 2 Bs for entry to a specific course. Where it matters is for Scottish students applying to English universities where Scottish Highers are the minority qualification for entry compared to A levels."