Scots applications for university places fall by 17%
University applications from Scotland have dropped further than in any other part of the UK, according to early figures from the admissions body Ucas.
They show a 17.1% fall for Scottish applicants to all UK universities, compared with the same time last year.
Higher tuition fees are thought to be behind the slump in applications from Scots students to English institutions.
But the number of Scots applying to study in Scotland is also down by 16.2%.
Ucas said the statistics only offered a snapshot, with the deadline for applications to the majority of courses not until January.
Overall, there has so far been a 12.9% drop in applications to universities across the UK.
The figures showed a 15.2% decrease in all university applicants from English students, a 10.3% reduction from Wales and 16.9% drop in students applying from Northern Ireland.
Applications from Scots to universities in England fell by 19.1% from 1,871 to 1,513.
The fall in the number of Scots seeking to study at Scottish institutions is sharper than the 7.6% drop - to 12,720 - in applications from English students to Scottish universities.
This is despite the fact English students could face fees of up to £36,000 for a four-year degree course being introduced at some universities in Scotland.
In England degrees are usually completed in three years, meaning the cost could be less.
End Quote Mary Curnock Cook Ucas
We expect some depression of demand due to a decline in the young population but it is much too early to predict any effects from changes in tuition fees”
The Scottish government has pledged to maintain free education for Scottish students studying in Scotland.
Ucas chief executive Mary Curnock Cook said: "Recent changes in higher education funding mean that application patterns this year may be different to previous years and we are gearing up for a possible late surge close to the 15 January deadline, where applicants have taken more time to research their applications.
"We expect some depression of demand due to a decline in the young population but it is much too early to predict any effects from changes in tuition fees."
Changes to fees mean students from the rest of the UK will have to pay more to study in Scotland.
The UK government decided to lift the cap on fees in England to £9,000 per year.
A Scottish government spokesman said: "Today's release is the second in an annual cycle of information and only includes a small proportion of anticipated applications.
"While applications to Scottish institutions and from Scottish pupils are broadly on a par with the rest of the UK, conclusions cannot be drawn from these figures. We await further publications with interest."