Scottish Muslims more likely to have degree than other Scots

Muslims in Scotland are more likely to have a degree or their own business than other Scots, according to a new study.

The national average for Scots educated to degree level is 27 per cent. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The number of Muslims educated to degree level, or above, has increased from 22 per cent in 2001 to 38 per cent in 2011, exceeding the 27 per cent figure for Scotland’s population as a whole.

The University of Edinburgh analysis also indicates Scottish Muslims are strongly entrepreneurial as a third of those working full-time are self-employed compared with 12 per cent of the overall population.

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However, while about a third (31 per cent) of the Muslim population is “economically active” full-time, this is below the population as a whole, where the figure is 51 per cent.

Analysts said the lower proportion of “economically active” Muslims is offset by the higher proportion of Muslims who are students.

Researchers analysed data from the 2001 census - when a question of religion was introduced - and the subsequent census of 2011 to gain insight into the experience of Scottish Muslims.

The report said much of the data indicates a “highly aspirational Scottish Muslim population with an eye on social mobility and a tendency towards financial independence and self-sufficiency”.

It added: “Muslim young people - both school age and students - represent a tremendous resource in terms of their capacity to contribute positively to the nation and this can be facilitated by greater cultural understanding and recognition in educational and other public spaces, as well as cross-community and government-community partnerships on matters of mutual interest.”

Other key findings were that a quarter of Muslim women look after home and family compared with 5.6 per cent of all Scottish women.

Researchers at the university’s Alwaleed centre for the study of Islam in the contemporary world suggest a relatively young Muslim population in Scotland may be a factor in this.

Statistics show that 30 per cent of Muslims were aged 15 and under in 2011, compared with 17 per cent of the total population.

Muslims constitute 1.45 per cent of the population in Scotland, where there are 76,737 Muslims. They make up 2.8 per cent of all Muslims in the UK.

The study found that Muslims are widely dispersed across Scotland, with the highest concentration in Glasgow at 5 per cent.

It also highlights that less than 4.5 per cent of the Muslim population have weak or no English language skills - compared with an estimated 6 per cent south of the border.

Dr Khadijah Elshayyal, who led the study, said: “Our report encompasses numerous aspects of life for Muslims in Scotland.

“Its findings will form the basis of a wider project that aims to encourage conversations at a national and local level, concerning the present and future needs of Scotland’s growing Muslim population.”