SNP hails record student numbers
THE SNP has hit back at claims Scottish students are being blocked from university, as new figures show that a record number of homegrown undergraduates will start higher education this year.
A total of 22,292 Scottish students have received places so far, a 3 per cent rise from 21,630 in 2011.
However, it emerged last week that Scottish students, who pay no fees, were being turned away from universities which were still holding open places for fee-paying youngsters from outside Scotland.
The umbrella body, Universities Scotland, last night claimed there were still places available for Scots students.
Institutions such as the University of West of Scotland, the University of Abertay and the University of the Highlands and Islands still have hundreds of places available for Scots, but have yet to find students who want to go there.
After a week in which ministers were accused of discriminating against Scottish students, education secretary Mike Russell yesterday hailed the rise in Scottish students.
He claimed it justified the SNP’s decision to make the taxpayer pay for students’ tuition fees rather than the students themselves.
“This year we have had the highest-achieving pupils sitting Highers and the highest number of young people secure their preferred university place since records began. The figures tell their own story,” he said.
However, Robin Parker, president of the National Union of Students Scotland, said the number of places in the clearing process for Scottish students was limited because of the need for universities to attract fee-paying learners.
“When Scottish students are being turned away from clearing while counterparts from across the Border are being welcomed with open arms, I can entirely understand why students in Scotland will feel aggrieved,” he said.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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