RECORD numbers of Scots have secured a place at university with progress on those from the poorest backgrounds, new figures show.

A report by university admissions service Ucas found 33,530 Scottish students got a place in higher education - up two per cent on the previous year.

The number of students from the poorest 20 per cent of neighbourhoods getting a place also hit a 10-year high after a three per cent rise.

And the gap between the richest and poorest 18-year-olds getting a place is at a ten year low.

Professor Andrea Nolan, convener of Universities Scotland, recognised more needed to be done, but said there was a lot to be encouraged by.

She said: “The fact there is still a gap is a problem, but we’re working hard to close it.

“I’m really pleased to see a three per cent increase in students from the most deprived areas of Scotland getting a place to start university this year.

“This is evidence of universities’ focus and hard work in creating opportunities for students who face a number of obstacles.”

Ms Nolan said the figures were particularly encouraging because they came despite a drop in the number of students from the most deprived neighbourhoods applying to university.

Richard Lochhead, the new Higher Education Minister, also welcomed the figures.

He said: “My congratulations to all the young people for their hard work and dedication.

“Higher education institutions are also making good progress on widening access.”