One of the keystones of its success has been the claim that it has been working for the benefit of everyone in Scotland, and for equality of opportunity.
But This Blog made it clear that this claim was false – more than a year ago.
“Holyrood abolished tuition fees for Scottish universities – but who did that help? According to research by Edinburgh University in 2013, it helped those who were already wealthy.
“The report on widening access to higher education was submitted to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) after Ferdinand von Prondzynski, the university principal hand-picked by SNP ministers to review higher education, said abolishing tuition fees has mainly benefited the middle classes.
“The report found the lack of fees in Scotland has meant initiatives to widen access have had “lower priority” and less funding.
“The amount of grants available to poorer Scots has fallen and the funding packages offered north of the Border are virtually the same, regardless of the student’s wealth.
“Meanwhile, there has been a huge drop in the number of students attending colleges since the SNP came to power in Holyrood and inflicted “savage spending cuts”, axing part-time courses which MSPs derided as “hobby courses”. The figures came from the Scottish Funding Council and show that 130,000 college places and teaching staff have been lost.
“Those most affected by the cuts are young people who are less academic and are looking for vocational qualifications, and women returners – it was said that 100,000 fewer women were in education as a result of the SNP’s cuts.
“So the SNP’s education policy is to penalise the poor and reward the rich. So much for that party’s left-wing credentials!”
How right I was.
Particularly interesting is the new finding that colleges are better at getting disadvantaged students into higher education than universities, given the fact that the SNP has been starving those institutions of resources.
The response from supporters of the nationalist party should be interesting.
Despite offering free tuition, Scotland has the worst record than anywhere else in the UK when it comes to getting students from poorer backgrounds into university, says new report.
The Access to Scotland report from social mobility charity The Sutton Trust has found there to be a narrowing of the gap between rich and poor young people entering higher education (HE) across the UK in recent years.
However, despite improvements, young disadvantaged Scottish people are four times less likely to go to university than their wealthier counterparts. In England the same figure is 2.4, while in Wales and Northern Ireland, poorer students are three times more likely to do so.
The report has also found that virtually all the improvements in getting disadvantaged Scottish students places in HE over the last decade (90 per cent) has been provided by colleges, and not universities.
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