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Universities must do more to accept people from poorer backgrounds

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NUS Scotland calls on more to be done for applicants from most deprived areas

Universities need to do more for applicants from deprived areas, Scotland’s student union has said.

Figures released by admissions body UCAS show a 50% increase in university applications from people from the most deprived backgrounds over the past 10 years but NUS Scotland has warned more still has to be done.

The largest increase in applications over the past decade has been among people from more disadvantaged backgrounds, rising from 9.9% in 2006 to 15.7% in 2015. However, the union argues the figure is still far to small and the majority of applications are still submitted by young people from better off backgrounds.

An increase in applications among young people from disadvantaged backgrounds doesn’t necessarily equate to more of these young people actually being offered a place

Commenting on the figures, Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland president-elect, said: “These figures show that the hard work over the last few years to boost fair access to education is paying off.

“It’s clear that any lack of students from deprived backgrounds in our universities isn’t due to a lack of aspiration on their part, as given the chance they have just as much potential to succeed as anyone else.

“It’s incumbent on everyone working in Scottish higher education to carry this good work forward, and to ensure these increases continue.”

NUS Scotland is part of the newly established Commission on Widening Access and is calling on the Scottish Government and those working in education in Scotland to work together to ensure an increase in applications from deprived areas turns into an increase in students from those areas.

Sandlan continued: “An increase in applications among young people from disadvantaged backgrounds doesn’t necessarily equate to more of these young people actually being offered a place at university. The key will be ensuring that applicants become entrants.

“Figures like these show that the opportunities are there. We need to now make sure that universities are working with schools, colleges and others to support young people from before they even make an application to the point they leave university.”

Earlier this week, the Robertson Trust announced £240,000 worth of funding for a University of St Andrews outreach programme which offers pupils from Fife the chance to take part in summer schools and mentoring at the world famous university to try and increase applicants from the local area.

 

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