Scottish students lose out in university rush
HUNDREDS of empty places are being advertised at leading universities, despite Scottish students being told they have limited chances of obtaining a last-minute spot.
Thousands of teenagers across Scotland yesterday received their exam results and confirmation of whether or not they had done enough to secure their place at university.
For those falling short, there are a few places available through Clearing at some of the country’s newer universities for courses yet to be filled.
But while places are scarce for Scots, there are still hundreds of empty places for students coming from outside of the EU. The current funding arrangements, which have kept tuition free for Scots and EU students, mean numbers are capped for home students, but not for those coming from elsewhere in the UK or from outside of the EU, all of whom now pay fees.
However, the funding deal means places not taken up by foreign students or those from England, who receive their results next week, cannot be transferred to Scots looking to go to university.
Tory education spokesman Liz Smith said: “There are increasing concerns among school leavers and their parents that there is not a level playing field and that the Clearing system has becoming increasingly complex.
“The whole thing needs to be looked at so that nobody feels disadvantaged and that we have as much of a level playing field as we possibly can.”
According to the website of the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (Ucas), there are a limited number of places for Scots at universities including Edinburgh Napier, the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and the University of West Scotland (UWS). However, there are a far larger number of options at more universities open to those from overseas.
Andrea Robertson, director of customer operations at Ucas, said: “More than 22,000 applicants from Scotland have won places at their chosen university or college. If you don’t have a place on results day, for whatever reason, you may wish to use clearing to find a course.
“If you are flexible and make sure you match the requirements, there’s a great chance of finding a fulfilling course.”
Yesterday’s exam results showed the Higher pass rate is now at a record level of 76.9 per cent, compared with 75.2 per cent last year.
Writing in The Scotsman today, Professor Lindsay Paterson, of Edinburgh University’s School of Social and Political Science, said it was unlikely that the rising pass rate was a result of the exams getting easier.
He said: “Falling standards have been with us, rhetorically, for as long as public examinations have existed (which in Scotland is since 1888). If we are thinking only year to year, the quality assurance mechanisms probably do ensure that this is not a plausible explanation.”
Education secretary Mike Russell said: “As part of our promise to keep university free for Scottish students, the Scottish Government committed to protecting the number of university places.
“We have done exactly that.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east