MORE Scottish pupils have secured a place at university on exams results day than in any previous year, new figures show.

Statistics from the university clearing service Ucas showed 28,300 Scottish students had successfully secured courses - up five per cent on the previous year.

The figures were released on the day more that 140,000 Scottish pupils receive their exam results at National, Higher and Advanced Higher levels.

Ucas official Helen Thorne said: "We have got 28,300 Scottish students who have secured a place at university and that is the highest that we have ever seen on Scottish results day.

"We want to say a big congratulations to all of them and when our tracking system opens students will be able to log in and see if they have got their university place."

Skills Development Scotland has set up a free helpline to offer advice, information and support for pupils and parents, including information on college and university courses, apprenticeships, employment and volunteering. The number is 0808 100 8000.

John Swinney, the Education Secretary, said: "Receiving results can be a daunting and nerve-wracking time and I think it is important that we recognise this and make sure all of the students who will receive results today are supported with advice and guidance to make the best possible choices going forward.

"If you get the results you are looking for, then that is obviously fantastic. However, if students do not get what they need this time round, then be assured that there are a huge number of things you can consider and there is support available to help you get where you want to be.

"Whatever the outcome, results tomorrow will be a beginning, rather than an end point and if you are not sure or are looking for some advice then please do use this free helpline."

Most of the increase in Scottish applicants placed at college or university has come from the older age groups – there are an extra 1,000 accepted Scottish applicants aged 20 and over.

There are 12,600 Scottish 18-year-old applicants placed, unchanged from last year despite the population falling by 2.2 per cent. The proportion of young people entering higher education has increased to 21.3 per cent - the highest level recorded on Scottish results day.

Some 3,800 pupils from the poorest areas of Scotland have received a higher education place - up five per cent - and representing 13.4 per cent of all Scottish applicants placed through UCAS.

The entry rate for young people living in the most deprived areas has increased from 8.2 per cent to 8.8 per cent, but young people living in the least deprived areas remain over four times more likely to enter.

Overall recruitment to universities and colleges in Scotland totals 34,600 - up 6 per cent. Acceptances from the EU have increased by 600 to 3,900 after an increase of 19 per cent.

Green MSP Ross Greer said: "Nationally, the results show a slight dip in the number of students who passed the Higher English exam compared to last year.

"I'd expect the Scottish Government to look into this and work to ensure that pupils and teachers are given the support and resources needed to ensure next year's results in the subject surpass rather than fall below last year's standard."

Teaching unions have argued the new qualifications have resulted in increased workloads for teachers.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union, said: "Given that the education minister has already acknowledged the excessive burdens which have been placed on schools by the bureaucracy surrounding the qualifications changes, he must now be clear on the levers which will be used to address this and ensure teachers experience a genuine positive change which will enable them to continue to help pupils achieve exam success."