Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP has today criticised the Scottish Government's efforts to widen access to university after new figures revealed that the number of Scottish students from deprived backgrounds starting full-time degrees fell last year.
The Scottish Government's own target says that students from the 20% most deprived backgrounds should represent 20% of entrants to higher education by 2030. However new figures released by the Scottish Funding Council reveal the proportion actually fell to 13.8% in 2016/17, down 0.2% on the previous year
Mr Scott said:
"The First Minister said to judge her on her education record and progress towards closing the attainment gap. These new statistics should stop her in her tracks. After a decade of SNP rule, the situation is getting worse, not better.
"The Scottish Government have delivered years of cuts to bursaries and grants that students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds rely upon. They have also cut 150,000 college places, denting many people's chances of getting on in life. The damage is now evident in the widening gulf in access to higher education and should compel ministers to repair it.
"A world class education is critical to enabling every single Scot to realise their potential and building the highly skilled, high wage economy that we want for our country. That is why Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently made the case for a transformative investment in education."
Notes to editors:
Widening Access figures 2016-7 -http://www.sfc.ac.uk/web/FILES/statisticalpublications_sfcst062018/SFCST062018_Report_on_Widening_Access_2016-17.pdf
Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) figures show that since the SNP entered government the value of student loans issued annually has increased 175% while the sum of bursaries and grants has fallen by a third.