The Sutton Trust has recently published a report entitled Access in Scotland: Access to Higher Education for people from less advantaged backgrounds in Scotland (Hunter Blackburn et al., 2016) using research from Edinburgh University. They found that social inequality in entrance to Higher Education is worse in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, to the extent that young people in Scotland from the most advantaged areas are 4 times more likely to go straight to university than those from the least advantaged areas. For comparison, the equivalent figure in England is 2.3 times and in Wales and Northern Ireland, 3 times.
The report shows that although there has been improvement for disadvantaged students in Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, the progress in Scotland is almost entirely due to sub-degree courses in colleges. In fact, 90 of all growth in this area since 2006 is explained by this. Aside from existing funded places at Scotland’s ancient universities, few disadvantaged students have taken university places.
The authors of the report recommend that additional places at the Ancient universities in Scotland should be funded to meet the growing demand and reduce the disproportionate impact on young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.