In 2004-05, 46.4 per cent of the age group went on to HE, 29.5 per cent to study in university, 15 per cent in an FE college and 1.9 per cent elsewhere in the UK. The total compares with 51.5 per cent in 2000-01.
A spokesman for Universities Scotland warned that certain myths were fuelling complacency over the figures for participation in HE. Scotland did not have the highest participation rates in the world and it had low rates of graduates in the workforce compared to the European average, he said.
"There is a very real risk that, in five to 10 years, Scotland will find itself being held back if it does not increase the proportion of people going on to higher education."