Progress in encouraging children from the poorest backgrounds to apply for university is considerably slower here than in England, a report has found.
UCAS will publish figures for university applicants from across the UK’s four parts tomorrow.
It shows that while there was a three per cent increase in 18-year-olds from the most deprived areas in Scotland applying, that rise for south of the border was double at six per cent.
The statistics also show the overall application rate in Scotland fell slightly to 32.7 per cent this year.
That compares to 39.5 per cent in England, 32.9 per cent in Wales and 46.9 per cent in Northern Ireland.
Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary Liz Smith said:
“This report shows clearly that while some progress is being made in Scotland in relation to young people accessing university from the most deprived areas, the progress is half the pace of elsewhere.
“That partly reflects the better availability of bursary support in England and the fact that there is greater confidence among young people from deprived backgrounds to apply for a place than is currently the case in Scotland.
“This is yet another stark message for the SNP that the focus for improving the situation north of the border should be on school education - specifically narrowing the attainment gap - rather than on artificial targets for SIMD quotas within universities.”