University of Glasgow
Credit: Wikimedia Commons - David Iliff

Scottish universities admissions accused of prejudice against college students

University of Glasgow

Credit: Wikimedia Commons – David Iliff

Devon Scott

The UK’s Commissioner on Fairer Access to Higher Education, Professor Peter Scott, has claimed universities are not taking on students from colleges as they are prejudiced against vocational education.

Professor Scott suggested the reason for this was linked to universities’ fear over their league table positions.

Recent figures from the Scottish Funding Council reveal that the post-1992 universities have accepted far more students from colleges than the ancient universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews, and Aberdeen.

Professor Scott criticised ancient universities for being less willing to accept college students than newer universities.

In 2014-2015, 95 students transferred to Edinburgh University from colleges and 29 to St Andrews. However at Edinburgh Napier University there were 980 cases and a further 1557 transfers at Glasgow Caledonian.

Professor Scott recently gave a talk to key figures from the higher education sector at Holyrood about his thoughts on this prejudice. During this talk he addressed the fact that universities treat a HN as an entry-level qualification and as a result, college students were being forced to start university courses in first year. He stated: “Frankly it is not right that half of HN students transferring to degree courses in universities receive no credit and basically have to go back to the starting line, especially when the Funding Council has set a much higher target for HN students to be given advanced standing.

“It is unfair to them, and costly to the taxpayer – and, most important of all, it is treating a HN as entry-level qualifications, like Highers, when, in fact, they are two-year post-school, and higher education, qualifications.”

When asked about prejudice ancient universities have for allowing college students to progress directly into second year he explained that the ancient universities were far too “obsessed” with their league table positions, believing that any modification in intake would have an impact.

The President of the National Union of Students in Scotland; Vonnie Sandlan, said: “It’s appalling that the status quo allows universities to pick and choose if they’ll properly recognise and accept those qualifications. That creates inconsistencies across the country, with the usual suspects not pulling their weight. That becomes inexcusable if any university is relying on outdated, offensive and elitist excuses of academic ability, or risks to league table position.”


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