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Statistics reveal 'awful' record on fair access for most exclusive Scottish universities

Monday 4 June 2012NUS News

New statistics from an NUS Scotland FOI request have revealed for the first time the shocking record on fair access at some of Scotland's most exclusive universities.
  • St Andrews took in only 13 Scottish students from the most deprived backgrounds
  • Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen are equally poor with 91 and 51 students respectively
  • Numbers show progress can be made with only small increases

New statistics from an NUS Scotland FOI request have revealed for the first time the shocking record on fair access at some of Scotland's most exclusive universities.

The statistics come at the same time as universities are negotiating agreements on widening access with the Scottish Funding Council, and are taken from NUS Scotland's forthcoming report on widening access in Scotland.

Scotland has the worst record on widening access in the whole of the UK and these statistics show how far some of our institutions have to go:

  • University of Aberdeen: 51 SIMD 20 (note 1) entrants vs 12,195 undergraduates, 16,180 students in total.
  • University of Edinburgh: 91 SIMD 20 vs 17,570 undergraduates, 25,700 total.
  • University of St Andrews: 13 SIMD 20, vs 7,370 undergraduates, 9,540 in total.
  • Universities of Glasgow and Dundee: Each had entry rates of at least five percentage points higher than Aberdeen, Edinburgh and St Andrews.

Full table below

However, more positively, these figures show that only small increases in Scottish students from the most deprived backgrounds could transform our record in Scotland.

Later this year, the Scottish Government will bring forward legislation on widening access, and negotiations are ongoing between institutions and the SFC to agree outcomes for widening access. NUS Scotland is calling on Scottish universities to use these opportunities to prove their commitment to fair access, and to do more to get students from the most deprived backgrounds into university.

Robin Parker, President of NUS Scotland, said: "These statistics are shocking. For an institution like St Andrews to take 13 students from the poorest backgrounds last year shows just how far we have to go. University places should be given to those that have the most talent and potential.

"Unless institutions do more to widen access, they're missing out on some of those with the most potential, that could get the best degrees, and quite frankly, not doing their job properly.

"Making access fairer is incredibly important, but that doesn't mean it's difficult to do. While these statistics are truly awful, the silver lining is that they show that we can make really good progress with only small numbers of students.

"For example, it would take Edinburgh only 91 more students, in an institution with over 25,000, to double their intake of students from the most deprived backgrounds.

"For St Andrews to get to the same level would only take another 35 students per year, out of student population of over 9,000.

"Scottish universities are currently drafting up agreements on widening access with the Scottish Funding Council. These statistics should act as a wake-up call and empower universities to take the steps required to make access fairer in Scotland."

Scottish-domiciled entrants to full-time undergraduate degree courses at Scottish universities, by deprivation level, 2010/11

 

SIMD 20 (n)

All SIMD 20 (%)

Young (21 and under) SIMD 20 (%)

Aberdeen

51

3.1

2.4

Abertay Dundee

257

16.8

12.3

Dundee

195

10.1

7.6

ECA

8

5.6

2.2

Edinburgh Napier

258

12.2

8.2

Edinburgh

91

5.0

3.1

Glasgow Caledonian

584

20.7

14.9

GSA

13

7.0

5

Glasgow

303

10.4

8

Heriot-Watt

77

8.6

7.7

UHI

167

8.3

4.9

Queen Margaret

51

9.3

7.3

Robert Gordon

102

5.4

4

RCS

11

8.7

5.3

SAC

39

8.1

6.1

St Andrews

13

2.7

2.9

Stirling

160

9.3

7.8

Strathclyde

349

13.0

10.7

UWS

1,117

25.4

20.3

Total

3,846

12.7

9.1

Source: NUS Scotland Freedom of Information request to SFC, 2011