Strathclyde Telegraph

Decline in students from deprived areas at six Scottish universities

By Émer O’Toole, Editor in Chief

 

Universities have worked hard in recent years to recruit more students from poorer backgrounds, but inequalities remain since the proportion of students from the most deprived communities securing a place at a Scottish university has remained virtually static, new figures reveal.

In 2014/15 just 10.8% of students in Scottish higher education were from the poorest areas compared to 10.4% the previous year.

The proportion of poorest pupils at one third of universities decreased over the same period.

The six institutions which saw numbers drop were Aberdeen, Abertay Dundee, Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow Caledonian, Queen Margaret and St Andrews.

The universities of Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Robert Gordon, Stirling, Strathclyde and West of Scotland all saw number increase.

The disappointing progress comes after the Scottish Government made widening access to higher education one of the priorities of its administration.

All institutions have pledged to improve access under new written agreements with the Scottish Funding Council, which released the figures.

However, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, has also set up a Widening Access Commission to ensure better progress is made.

The interim report of the commission last year found the sector was “fundamentally unfair”.

It stated: “Unless we are prepared to accept the notion that Scotland’s talent is concentrated in its most affluent communities, it is clear that, through accident of birth, a whole section of Scottish society has nothing like an equal opportunity to maximise their talent and reap the benefits of higher education.”

 

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