Scotland's legal profession is still dominated by a privileged elite,
according to the latest figures on admission to university law courses. Fewer that one in 12 entrants to law degrees at Scottish universities comes from a deprived background.
Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh came joint first in Scotland, (along with Glasgow’s Jordanhill School), after figures released showed 69 per cent of S5 pupils obtained three Highers or more. A few miles away not one student left either Wester Hailes Education Centre or Castlebrae Community High with a Higher, let alone the qualifications needed for a university place.
In Glasgow, just 5 per cent of students at Govan High School obtained three or more Highers, while schools in deprived areas of Aberdeen and Dundee also performed poorly.
Meanwhile Scotland's university for the elite, St Andrews, where Prince William and Kate Middleton studied, is accused of failing to enrol students from the poorest backgrounds - only 13 students from the most deprived backgrounds of the country in 2010/11 – 2.7% of the student intake.
Once again Scottish universities are in the spotlight over their failure to recruit sufficient numbers of students from deprived backgrounds. Scottish universities will take 40 years to achieve fair access for students from the most deprived backgrounds at current rates of progress, according to a new report. The proportion of Scots from the 20% least advantaged backgrounds going to university increased by just one percentage point – from 10.6% to 11.6% – between 2005/06 and 2010/11. St Andrews, where Prince William studied, recruiting only 13 students from the most deprived backgrounds in Scotland in 2010/11.
The universities– while accepting more can be done – feels the issue is not of its own making. Numerous previous studies have shown that the educational gap between the haves and have-nots opens up from nursery onwards – and can become insurmountable by the time pupils start sitting exams such as Standard Grades and Highers.
Figures obtained by the National Union of Students show older universities each typically recruit fewer than 100 students from deprived backgrounds. Student leaders have described as "truly awful" the record of Scottish universities on admitting students from poorer backgrounds.
Students are classed as coming from a poorer background if they grew up in one of the least affluent 20% of postcode districts.
St Andrews University admitted 13 students from these areas. It teaches a total of 7,370 undergraduates.
Edinburgh and Aberdeen also recruited fewer than 100 students from these districts. Aberdeen could only muster 51 and Edinburgh 91.
Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, whose intake of 102 students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Edinburgh College of Art, which merged with the University of Edinburgh last year, took in eight students, or 5.6 per cent, from deprived areas. Glasgow School of Art took in 13 students, 7.0 per cent of their intake last year.
In 1999, just over 83% of pupils at independent schools went to university, while only 31% of children in the state sector made the same choice. Between 1999 and 2010, the number of state school pupils who attended university increased from 31% to 35.7%, an average rise of around 1% for every three years of devolution. But a new comparison of school-leaver destinations has revealed the goal of overhauling university access in the poorest areas has failed in many cases.
Only 5% of pupils from Govan High School went on to higher education in 1999. In 2010, the figure was 5.1%. At Drumchapel High 9% of school leavers attended university last year, up just 3% on 1999. A pupil leaving Drumchapel High is three times more likely to be unemployed than at university. By contrast, the university entrance rate for Jordanhill – a seven-minute car ride from Govan High – is 82.4%. Only 1% of pupils at Drumchapel High achieved five or more Highers in S5 in 2009, compared with 39% at Jordanhill. At th…
The school that a pupil attended remains a bigger factor in whether they get into a top university than having good A-level grades, research suggests.
The Sutton Trust charity, which analysed admissions from 2002-06, says state school youngsters are losing out. The trust found the number of pupils at the top 30 comprehensives who went to Oxbridge was just a third of what might be expected if based on ability. But at the top 30 independent schools, more than expected got Oxbridge places.
The trust says the findings cannot be attributed to A-level results alone.
Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said :-
"We have a class structure, that is the very simple answer. We actually do have a class structure and that gets in the way of trying to do something about this."