No clue of fee axe

July 2, 2004

Ninety per cent of the poorest Scottish pupils are unaware that Scotland axed upfront tuition fees in 2000 and believe they will be liable for costs of between £500 and £16,000 a year, according to a Universities Scotland study, writes Olga Wojtas.

Previous research on damaging perceptions of universities had focused on England, Seona Reid, director of Glasgow School of Art, told a conference on the findings this week.

But Una Bartley, Universities Scotland's social inclusion research and policy officer, revealed that only 10 per cent of underprivileged pupils knew of what is arguably the most notable difference between the systems north and south of the border - the absence of fees.

Many seem to be bamboozled by the debate on English top-up fees, and made comments such as, "I saw it on the news about them making you pay."

Young Scots from poor backgrounds are five times less likely to go into higher education than those from well-off families, even though the study also found that most of them believe that universities are open to all.

Many pupils found talks at outreach events uninspiring. According to one:

"She (the speaker) was just yapping on about stuff. I fell asleep halfway through it."

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