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Elizabeth Quigley, political correspondent
"They want to ensure every Scot has the chance to go to university"
 real 56k

Wendy Alexander, Lifelong Learning Minister
"All of this is about making sure that everyone has the chance to go to university"
 real 28k

Kenny MacAskill, SNP MSP
"Some universities have been carrying out these kinds of schemes for a long time"
 real 28k

Monday, 20 November, 2000, 14:16 GMT
New drive against elitism
Student backs
Summer schools will be set up
Two schemes have been unveiled aimed at drawing more students from poorer backgrounds into Scotland's universities.

The Royal Bank of Scotland is funding a 1.7m plan, saying it wants to "reverse the middle-class image of universities".

And the Scottish Executive has announced payments of 750 each for teaching undergraduates whose parents earn less than 10,000 a year, regardless of which year of study they are in.

The Scottish National Party said the Royal Bank's funding boost was a good step forward, but such a scheme could not be an alternative to public funding.

Kenny MacAskill, SNP spokesman for lifelong learning, added: "There is no problem with this as long as it does not detract from the dignity and decorum of the universities. As long as this is not crass commercialism then there is no problem.

"Some universities have been carrying out these kinds of schemes for a long time."

Lecture theatre
Universities have been criticised
Tory education spokesman Brian Montieth said: "I think it is a good idea that the Royal Bank gets behind this kind of project and I hope it makes a difference to the students it is trying to benefit.

"It is quite clear what the Royal Bank is getting out this - their name has been mentioned several times already and they have a vested interest attracting not only the students but their bank accounts also."

The bank's money will be spent over the next four years on supporting summer schools for students from poorer backgrounds.

'We need to change'

The Scottish Executive scheme announced by Enterprise Minister Wendy Alexander, comes into effect at the start of the next academic year and should help about 12,000 students.

She welcomed both schemes to counter what she saw as "elitism" in higher education following a succession of failed initiatives.

"All of this is about making sure that everyone has the chance to go to university. If Scotland is to succeed in the future we need to change.

Wendy Alexander
Wendy Alexander: "Countering elitism"
"We must give kids more help to stay on at school, we want to create more university places and where the private sector wants to help then that is a good thing.

"Scotland is better than the rest of the UK with kids going to university and this package is about preserving that lead."

Under the executive scheme universities will receive the 750 bonus for each undergraduate, regardless of which year of study they are in.

The plan is part of a package of funding measures which will see universities receive 660m next year - an increase of 8% on the previous years.

Academic's warning

Scottish universities generally fare better than their English counterparts in recruiting students from less affluent backgrounds.

However, only 15% of pupils in Glasgow, which has some of the poorest areas in the UK, go into higher education.

Last week a leading academic warned that students would be put off attending university because they are afraid of hardship.

Sir Stewart Sutherland, convener of the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals (Coshep), made the claim to MSPs investigating changes to the student finance system.

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20 Nov 00 | Education
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