The SNP 'is letting down middle-class students', MSP claims
14th January 2023

The SNP ‘is letting down middle-class students’ with social engineering policies, MSP claims

  •  An MSP claims that SNP policies are unfairly impacting middle-class students
  • Only ‘disadvantaged’ Scottish pupils won place on Uni of Edinburgh’s law course
  •  Sturgeon said the data shows ‘positive story’ for those from deprived areas

Teenagers from middle-class backgrounds have ‘no chance’ of winning places on prestigious university courses because of the SNP’s social engineering policies, it has been claimed.

Data from the University of Edinburgh has revealed that no Scottish student who was not classified as ‘disadvantaged’ won a place on its law course this year.

Those from strong schools or less deprived backgrounds also failed to be accepted to business, Japanese and joint philosophy and psychology courses.

It sparked warnings from critics that policies aimed at forcing universities to widen access have actually closed doors to swathes of average families.

Labour MSP Michael Marra, who uncovered the figures, said: ‘No matter your background, rich or poor, if you work hard, and you get the grades, you should be able to get access.’

Teenagers from middle-class backgrounds have ‘no chance’ of winning places on prestigious university courses because of the SNP’s social engineering policies, it has been claimed (pictured: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon)

Of the 1,200 Scots who applied to study law at the university, 659 were flagged as widening access, compared to 555 unassigned applicants.

Some 170 students from deprived backgrounds were subsequently offered a place, while no student without a widening access category was admitted.

Seventy-two foreign students were accepted to study law, alongside 19 from the rest of the UK.

Ms Sturgeon, a law graduate from Glasgow University, attended Greenwood Academy in Dreghorn – a state school in North Ayrshire – from 1982 to 1988.

Responding to the figures, she said: ‘The data provides a really, really positive story for those applying from deprived areas.

‘In my earlier days as First Minister, I used to be regularly criticised for the fact that there were too few young people from deprived communities going to universities.’

But industry experts aren’t convinced.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham said the policies ‘close more doors’ than they open.

Labour MSP Michael Marra, who uncovered the figures, said: ‘No matter your background, rich or poor, if you work hard, and you get the grades, you should be able to get access’

He said: ‘These astonishing figures clearly show that a policy designed to increase diversity, in fact, can sharply reduce it by shutting out the middle class.

‘This can only weaken the universities and ultimately society itself. It would be smarter to ensure equality of opportunity and allow the universities to admit on merit when diversity would arise naturally.’

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘We take our commitment to widening access very seriously and recognise that a long term and sustained effort is required to achieve meaningful social mobility in communities.

‘More than 80 per cent of our entrants from Scotland consistently come from a state school and the proportion of students from Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas has almost doubled since 2015.

‘The number of students we can accept from Scotland is capped by the Scottish Government, which means that applicants are only in competition with those who are also within their own fee pool i.e. Scotland, rest of UK and international.

‘This means that the number of places for international students has no bearing on the number of places available to students from Scotland or the rest of the UK.’

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