Boost in Scots pupils winning a university place

MORE Scots have won a place at university this year than last after receiving their exam results yesterday, new figures show.

Straight As at St Ninian's, Giffnock: Sara Quinn, Julia Sloan, Caroline Dunn, Hannah Gillan, Sophie Igue and Katy McEachen.  Picture: Robert Perry
Straight As at St Ninian's, Giffnock: Sara Quinn, Julia Sloan, Caroline Dunn, Hannah Gillan, Sophie Igue and Katy McEachen. Picture: Robert Perry

The University and Colleges Admission Service (Ucas) said 22,770 Scottish applicants had been accepted to a Scottish institution – up by 2 per cent on last year.

Hundreds of extra places were created at Scotland’s universities this year by the Scottish Government as its seeks to widen access for poorer students. Ucas’s figures showed an extra 550 Scottish applicants had been accepted to university when compared with the same stage last year.

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However, there is likely to be disappointment for those who have failed to win a place on their first-choice course.

According to the Ucas Clearing website, which seeks to pair up candidates with available courses, there are hundreds of spaces free, but only for fee-paying students from elsewhere in the UK.

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.

Yesterday, Ucas showed that Glasgow University, for example, had places on 600 courses available to students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales, but just six courses open to Scots. In 2012, 1,628 Scottish students found a place through Clearing, and 1,428 of those went to institutions in Scotland.

Youth employment minister Angela Constance said: “It is great news that some 22,770 Scots are already accepted to a Scottish university to study for a degree.

“These students will also be among the first to benefit from the best package of support in the UK when they take up their places, while the additional places we have provided to widen access will ensure more young people from deprived areas are taking their place on our universities campuses next year.

“Of course, some young people will be disappointed, but help is at hand. We guarantee every 16-19-year-old the offer of a place in education or training.”

But Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said the Clearing situation showed “the discriminatory approach of the Scottish Government’s higher education policies”.

She said: “There is increasing pressure on universities to take more students from fee-paying categories and, by definition, that can mean fewer Scottish students have the same opportunities to gain places in Clearing. That is grossly unfair.”

With A-level results not published until next week, the admissions process for this year is yet to be completed. According to Ucas, Scottish universities have accepted 1,080 applicants from England, 30 from Wales, 210 from Northern Ireland and 3,070 from other EU countries.

Universities Scotland director Alastair Sim said most well-qualified applicants would get a place, adding: “The Scottish Government decides the number of funded places it can make available for free for Scottish and EU students; universities can only recruit to fill those numbers.

“But with record numbers of Scots getting a place at university, this year the picture is overwhelmingly one of good news for everyone.”