MORE than a quarter of adults in families across Scotland are educated to degree level, a new population survey has found. A total of 26 per cent of the 4.3 million people aged 16 and over living in households in Scotland hold university degrees or equivalent qualifications.
The highest proportion of this was among those living in couple family households with no children, where 34 per cent or 830,000 people had successfully completed higher education courses.
However, the figure stood at just 13 per cent for the 227,000 people aged 16 and over in single parent family households with dependent children - the lowest level for any group holding degrees.
There were 27 per cent of lone parents who had no qualifications, the figures taken from the 2011 Census on the “characteristics of Scotland’s population” showed.
A large number of older Scots also have no formal qualifications, with 59 per cent of households where all the people were aged 65 falling into that category.
The Scottish government has claimed its flagship policy of free university tuition had contributed to a growth in the number of Scots holding degrees or equivalent qualifications.
A government spokeswoman highlighted an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report showing high participation rates at Scotland’s universities.
The spokeswoman said: “Last year’s ONS findings revealed Scotland to be the most highly-educated country in Europe with a higher and tertiary education participation rate that is among the highest in the world.
“We are very pleased to note these findings and with the number of qualifiers from Scottish Higher Education institutions increasing by two per cent to a record high of 71,615 in 2013/14 hope to see this trend continue in the coming years.”
However, opposition MSPs expressed concern about the low levels of degrees held by those from single parent families in Scotland.
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, said the Census findings showed the Scottish government had failed to increase university participation rates among students from less well off backgrounds.
He said: “These figures indicate how much work needs to be done in attracting applications from people from non-traditional backgrounds to university.
“The reality is that Scotland’s record is poorer in this area than the rest of the UK and has consistently lagged behind England in participation rates for students from less well off backgrounds.
“It’s clear that the SNP government has got to do much more to close the gap in access to university education.”
Meanwhile, the census also found that 28 per cent of the 1.8 million people classed as living as households were categorised as semi-skilled or unskilled workers or on state benefits.
Part-time work is also widespread among single parents, with 59 per cent of the 111,000 lone parents in employment currently in temporary posts, according to the figures.
In a separate finding there were also nearly 30 per cent of Scotland’s population living with one or more long-term health conditions.
The proportion with poor health was highest for the “white Gypsy and traveller” ethnic group at 37 per cent and lowest for the “white Polish” population at 9 per cent.
Labour MSP Richard Baker said the overall findings showed “the extent of inequality” in Scotland and a failure of government to increase access to education and skills training for people from poorer families.
He said: “These findings are very disappointing and show the extent of inequality in Scotland.
“The UK and Scottish governments need to reflect on their failure to enable more equal access to higher education and skills training.
“Despite all the talk from the SNP government about progress in society, these figures show that this is not borne out and that ministers are not doing enough to tackle inequality.”
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