secondary school headteachers in Scotland believe the government's student support proposals will undermine equal access and lead to a drop in applications to higher education.
University student associations conducted a survey of headteachers, which revealed even greater concern about the abolition of maintenance grants than the introduction of tuition fees.
A little more than 70 per cent felt the number of pupils at their school entering higher education would fall because of the loss of grants. This rose to 78 per cent in schools that already sent less than 20 per cent of their pupils to higher education.
The survey showed that 68.5 per cent thought participation would drop because of tuition fees, but again, 78 per cent in schools with low participation thought fees would be a further deterrent.
Overall, more than 91 per cent of headteachers thought the proposals would not provide equal access for all. Paul Corrigan, president of St Andrews University's students association, said: "I think these results are quite frightening."
Scotland has traditionally had a significantly higher participation rate than elsewhere in the United Kingdom. At present, it is about 10 per cent higher than the UK.