More than 30,000 applicants have been accepted into a Scottish university or college as school pupils across the country receive their exam results.

This is a 5% increase compared to results day last year, according to admissions service Ucas.

It comes as it was revealed pupils have been awarded a record number of Highers - despite a slight drop in the overall pass rate for the exams.

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More than 140,000 youngsters are finding out their results today - the first time the new National 4 and 5 qualifications have been awarded.

The new qualifications were brought in as part of the Curriculum for Excellence reforms, with the bulk of pupils in S4 now sitting them instead of Standard Grades.

The pass rate for the National 4 was 93%, with 114,173 passes recorded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

Meanwhile, pupils achieved 173,131 passes at National 5 level, resulting in a success rate of 81.1%.

Students across the country passed 147,899 Highers, with the Scottish Government hailing this as a new record.

Candidates sat more than 9,000 more Higher exams than last year, although the pass rate fell slightly, from 77.4% to 77.1%.

A total of 18,171 Advanced Highers were awarded, as well as 144 Scottish Baccalaureates, giving pass rates of 81% and 81.8% respectively.

For Intermediate levels 1 and 2, the pass rate dropped, going from 77.8% and 81.8% respectively last year to 73.2% and 77.9% this year.

There were 30,350 applicants accepted into a university or college place in Scotland as of midnight. Some 24,480 Scottish applicants have won a place in UK higher education, an increase of 4% compared to the same stage last year - 23,780 of them were placed at a Scottish institution.

They can now use the Ucas website to see if they have been accepted or if they are eligible for ''clearing'', when universities and colleges offer their remaining places.

Fatuma Mahad, Ucas director of operations, said: "Congratulations to everyone who has secured a place at their chosen university or college in Scotland.

"Staying positive will put you on the front foot if you're looking for a place in clearing. Remember that the best way to succeed is to prepare thoroughly then call universities and colleges for an intelligent discussion about the courses you're interested in."

Pupils who did not get the results they expected and are looking for advice about future options are being encouraged to contact advisers on the helpline 0808 100 8000.

Minister for Learning Alasdair Allan said ''The fact that there has been such a marked increase in the number of Highers attained is a real success story.

''Students are now sitting a greater number of Highers, demonstrating real ambition and aspiration among young learners to achieve the best qualifications they can.

''I am also encouraged to see so many young people attaining National Qualifications, which are an important component within Curriculum for Excellence.

''This is a significant achievement for our learners and our schools, and clear evidence of continued improvement in Scottish education.''

Dr Janet Brown, SQA chief executive and Scotland's chief examining officer, said: ''We would like to wish all candidates continued success as they set out on a wide range of different pathways - whether that is moving into the workplace or a training scheme, returning to school or taking up a college or university place.''

She gave ''special thanks'' to those involved ''in developing and implementing the new system, at the same time as delivering an existing set of qualifications''.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said: ''It is gratifying to see the positive attainment rates in the new National qualifications, particularly in light of the challenging circumstances in which these new courses were introduced.

''It is of great credit to the work of our schools, pupils and teachers that the diet has been so successful at a time when budgets have been declining and workload pressures increasing."

Education Secretary Michael Russell said: "Hot on the heels of a record number of Higher passes, we now have more Scots heading into higher education than ever before.

"Scotland's young people can be incredibly proud of their achievements after putting in so much hard work this year and thousands will now be moving into a fresh challenge in the coming weeks."

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: "I know for young people in communities across Scotland waiting on your higher results looms large over the summer and today I am sure that so many will be delighted to know their hard work has paid off.

"Highers are an important milestone in a person's life and this will be the building block for them go on into university, college, employment or start their own business.

"Special praise must also go to staff and teachers in schools across the country for their dedication and commitment in preparing students for these exams and encouraging their talents and ambitions."