SCOTLAND is the only country in the UK to maintain levels of applications to university as soaring tuition fees at English universities take their toll.

Education specialists Ambitious Minds found 12 of the 20 best-performing constituencies were in Scotland, as applications stayed stable at 171,000 overall.

Glasgow East, with a rise of 11.2%, and Aberdeen North, up 11.1%, showed the largest increases. Only two of Scotland's 59 constituencies – Central Ayrshire, and West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine – saw falls more than the UK average.

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Sean McGuire, chief executive of Ambitious Minds, said: "Going to uni-versity is no longer an automatic choice for a teenager with good A-levels. It has become an investment decision that usually must be made by the family as an economic unit, and it is a decision that has significant risk.

"Young people who choose to go to university are burdening themselves with debts of more than £30,000 that will remain with them for decades if they aren't paid off. Trebling the cap on fees has had a significant effect on capping the aspirations of young people."

The data, collated by the University and Colleges Admissions Service, shows England was badly affected with university applications down by 9.9%. Applications from Northern Ireland fell 5.3% and were down 1.3% in Wales, while applications from Scottish students showed a miniscule rise of 0.05%.