Abolition of fees in Scotland ‘has not widened access’

Although the inability to levy fees means they receive less teaching funding per student than universities in England, which can charge fees of up to £9,000 (US$13,800) per year, Scottish universities are in rude health. Yet the abolition of fees has done surprisingly little to widen access to higher education, reports The Economist.

Indeed, since 2011 the proportion of students from state schools entering Scotland’s elite universities has fallen. And while the proportion of university students from non-professional backgrounds has risen by just 0.2% to 26.8%, in England it has gone up from 30.9% to 33.1%.

Although the poorest Scottish students are guaranteed an annual income of £7,625 (US$11,650) – higher than in England – most of this is in the form of loans. The level of non-repayable support has fallen sharply. Grants offered to poor students in Scotland are now worth little more than half those offered to the English. Lucy Hunter Blackburn, a policy analyst, calculates that the net effect of the Scottish National Party’s no-fee, low-grant policy is a £20 million-a-year transfer from poor students to their richer classmates.
Full report on The Economist site