Scottish university admissions are ‘fundamentally unfair’

Higher education
All Scottish universities should be willing to accept candidates from poorer backgrounds with far lower grades and this could enhance, rather than hamper, academic standards, according to a government commission.

The current system is entrenching a “fundamental unfairness” that favours young people from wealthier families, the interim report by the Commission on Widening Access states.

“It is sometimes suggested admitting students from deprived backgrounds with lower grades could have a detrimental impact on the principle of academic excellence,” it states.

“We understand Scotland’s universities have first-class reputations that are founded on academic excellence and we wish to see this continue and grow.

“However, there is increasingly strong evidence that, with the right support, bright students from deprived backgrounds can enhance, rather than jeopardise, academic excellence.”

So-called contextual admissions, which take into account non-academic credentials including social background, already feature in some Scottish universities. The commission, chaired by Dame Ruth Silver, was formed by first minister Nicola Sturgeon last November amid concern about the rate of progress.

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