Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2008 12:09 UK

Number of 'poorer' students falls

Scottish graduates
Higher numbers of students are dropping out of Scottish universities

The number of students from poorer backgrounds going to university is continuing to fall in Scotland.

The drop comes despite millions of pounds being spent on schemes to encourage them to take up places.

Lecturers have condemned the decline, which runs counter to the trend in the rest of the UK.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency also reveal higher numbers of students dropping out from Scottish universities.

The statistics indicate that the number of disadvantaged Scots going to university is almost 4% behind the UK-wide average of 30%.

We recognise that financial hardship can put students at greater risk of dropping out and are committed to the principle that education should be based on ability to learn not ability to pay
Government spokesperson

The figures showed that 10.1% of students in Scotland drop out of their courses, compared to a UK average of 8.6%, although the level has declined in the last year.

The lecturers' union, UCU, wants teenagers to be encouraged in early secondary school to think about going to university.

Fear of debt is believed to be one reason for falling numbers.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We welcome the fact that Scotland's universities are getting better at retaining the number of students they recruit and are helping more students to complete their courses.

"We recognise that financial hardship can put students at greater risk of dropping out and are committed to the principle that education should be based on ability to learn not ability to pay."

The spokesperson added that the government was also introducing a 38m package of grants for part-time learners in higher education, increasing the support for disabled students by 60% and providing 16m to institutions to alleviate student hardship in the coming academic year.

"This government is also committed to moving away from student loans to a fairer system of means-tested grants. We will be consulting on our plans later this year," the spokesperson said.


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SEE ALSO
Undergraduate intake mix widens
04 Jun 08 |  Education
Debt fears 'deter poor students'
14 Feb 08 |  Education
Universities offer more bursaries
14 Feb 07 |  Education
Q&A: Student fees
03 Mar 08 |  Education
Universities 'must target poor'
29 Nov 06 |  Education
More state pupils in universities
19 Jul 07 |  Education
Figures reveal student drop-outs
20 Jul 06 |  Scotland

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