Data released from UCAS this morning has revealed that applicants to the University of Glasgow from the most deprived areas in Scotland are less than three times as likely to receive an offer than applicants from the least deprived areas across all age ranges. 34% of offers in the most recent UCAS cycle went to applicants from the 20% least deprived postcodes this year compared with just 11% going to applicants from the 20% most deprived postcodes.
This data also indicates a slight fall in successful applications to the University of Glasgow from deprived areas since last year, when 12% of offers were made to applicants from the most-deprived postcode addresses. In the 18 year-old age grouping, the proportion of applicants receiving an offer in the highest income areas rose from 36% to 38%.
The University of Glasgow findings are in line with trends across Scotland revealed in today’s new data. This year just 1,215 applicants from the 20% most deprived areas across Scotland received an offer of study, down from 1,305 the year previous. The data also revealed that the number of successful applicants from the least deprived areas across Scotland rose from 4,605 to 4,685 over the same period.
At First Minister’s Questions today, Kezia Dugdale accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of not doing enough for working class communities. The Scottish Labour leader said: “What these figures very clearly show, First Minister, is that there has been a drop in the number of people from poorer background applying to university and there has been an even bigger drop in the number of poorer people being accepted when they do apply. This is what happens when you cut grants and bursaries by a third. This is a government which recently tried to scrap a scheme which secured university places for the poorest students, and students are worried that the First Minister will try that again.”
“Today she’s trying to move the goalposts again when it comes to the UCAS figures. It is simply a fact that if you look at the UCAS figures from 2015 to 2016, the situation is getting worse, First Minister, not better so let’s look at that overall picture. Poorer people are less likely to apply to university under this government. When they do apply they are less likely to be accepted, and when they get there they are more likely to drop out because of the cuts that you’ve made to bursaries and to grants."
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defended her government’s record, telling parliament: “18 year-olds entering university from our most deprived communities has gone up from 2010 to 2015 and in terms of people from all ages going to university, whether it’s applying to university or entering university, both of them have gone up by 10%.”
“When we last made changes to the bursary threshold, it was the NUS President – who I accept would want us to do more – who described it as great news for Scottish students.”
Statistics for deprivation in Scotland are calculated using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) method, which the Scottish Government claims, “allows effective targeting of policies and funding where the aim is to wholly or partly tackle or take account of area concentrations of multiple deprivation.”
A spokesperson for Universities Scotland told the BBC these new figures are "very useful but highly-detailed and complex data set that needs further examination."
She added: "The one factor that underpins all of the data for Scotland is that whoever you are and whatever your background, it is a lot more competitive to get into university in Scotland than it is in other parts of the UK, and that comes down to the limited availability of places here in Scotland."
The UCAS data also shows that across the UK, women are increasingly outperforming men in receiving university offers. However the gap between men and women has slightly narrowed this year at the University of Glasgow with a 43% and 57% split between men and women respectively in 2014/15 evening out to a 46% and 54% split in the 2015/16 UCAS cycle. The number of offers being made to men and women from the University of Glasgow have both increased.
Meanwhile the rate of offers going to white and black applicants to the University of Glasgow have both declined since last year while Asian, mixed and ‘other’ ethnic groups have seen a slight rise in the number of offers being made.
Today marks the first time UCAS has published data on race, gender and area background from individual universities. Comparatively, just 9%, 8% and 5% of offers made by the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St Andrews respectively went to applicants from within the 20% most deprived areas.