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Scottish government accused of ‘misleading’ the public as student attainment gap grows

The Scottish Conservatives have accused the Scottish Government of ‘misleading’ the public after they inaccurately claimed that the student attainment gap was decreasing.

Figures release from UCAS completely contradict the Scottish Government’s claim that the attainment gap between the most and least well of students going to university ‘continues to close’. 

Indeed, the statistics show that the attainment gap between the students going to university has actually widened by 0.7 per cent.

While the number of students from the most deprived areas has increased by 0.1 percent, there has been a 0.8 percent increase in students from the most affluent areas. The attainment gap has therefore increased from 26.5 per percent to 27.2 per cent.

In addition to this growing inequality, the number of Scottish students at Scottish universities has decreased by over 1000, or 4 per cent, in the last year to 27,880. This fall is more extensive than the 3.1 per cent drop in the 18 year old population cohort in Scotland applying to Scottish universities.

Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservative Shadow Education Secretary accused the SNP of misleading the public.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative Shadow Education Secretary said:

“The gap between the most and least well off students has risen and it is utterly misleading of the SNP government to claim otherwise.

“While it is extremely welcome that more deprived students are getting to university, it is simply ridiculous to suggest that this means there has been a reduction in the attainment gap.

“In addition to these findings, over one thousand fewer Scottish students are going to Scottish universities than was the case last year and the SNP cannot claim that this is a result of demographic changes alone. 

“There are other factors at play, most specially the damaging SNP cap on higher education places.

“These misrepresentations from SNP are unacceptable and they should apologise.”


Notes to editors:

The Scottish Government release said: “The gap between the number of students from the least and most deprived areas gaining a place at university continues to close.”

The attainment gap figures can be found here -

2018: Attainment gap = 26.5 per cent

2019: Attainment gap = 27.2 per cent

37.7 per cent from SIMD Q5

11.2 per cent from SIMD Q1

38.5 per cent from SIMD Q5

11.3 per cent from SIMD Q1

The fall in Scottish students going to Scottish universities can be found here -

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