Statistics from admissions body Ucas show a 10.5% drop in applications from prospective students across Scotland for 2013 compared to the previous year – down from 4246 to 3801.
However, it is too early to assess the impact of the figures because there are still seven months before applications close.
Last year, at the same time, there was an 8% decline, but, by June, the figure had risen to 42,515 – down just 2%.
Robin Parker, president of NUS Scotland, said: "Applications recovered from a similar drop last year to end up close to static.
"We'd like to see the whole of the sector working together, including the Government and universities, to make sure we end up with applications at least as high as last year."