Lower classes miss out on expanded HE

November 19, 1999

The mass expansion of higher education in Scotland has benefited the middle classes much more than those from poorer backgrounds, according to a survey of Scottish school-leavers.

Those whose fathers had non-manual jobs were twice as likely to enter higher education in 1993 than those whose fathers had manual jobs.

The proportion of school-leavers entering higher education doubled to 33 per cent between 1984 and 1993, but the study found qualifications to be the most important factor in determining entry to higher education. Family background is strongly correlated with school attainment and this explains a large part of the inequality in entrance rates.

"There are three stages at which young people's social background could influence their chances of higher education: gaining the necessary qualifications, applying, and entering. A strategy for broadening access must embrace all three stages," said Teresa Tinklin of the University of Edinburgh, who conducted the survey with colleague David Raffe.

The 1993 data are the most recent available for analysis.

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