The student numbers "cap" is deeply flawedby Liz Smith / January 11, 2017 / Leave a comment
Let’s be clear about one thing. It is good news that more Scottish domiciled students are at university than ever before. Assuming a university degree enriches the mind, improves career prospects and helps develop new skills, then there must be welcome economic and social benefit.
But there is a problem. An increasing number of Scottish domiciled students wanting places at Scottish institutions will not be offered a place. This is because of the Scottish National Party’s insistence that the number of places provided to them be “capped.”
As Audit Scotland noted in its most recent report into higher education, demand for places from domiciled Scots has risen by 23 per cent in the last six years, while the availability of places has risen by only 9 per cent. Recent statistics from UCAS show that the number of these applicants missing out on a place at one of the country’s universities has more than doubled in the last decade. In 2007, the number who failed to win a place was 8,280. Now, that figure stands at 16,645. In addition to this, the proportion of Scottish domiciled applicants who are offered a place is falling—while the proportion of fee-paying RUK students is increasing.
You don’t need a degree in rocket science to work out that it is getting much tougher for university applicants from this group. Some very well-qualified school leavers are losing out and turning their attention to places south of the border.
One could argue that increased competition for entry is a good thing since this should raise standards and mean that only the brightest and best get offered a place. This might be true if there was a level playing field, but there is not. Far from it.
For a start, the SNP has persisted with its highly discriminatory funding policy which means that Scottish domiciled students and (for the time being) EU students pay no fees, while students from the rest of the UK and international students studying exactly the same course do pay fees. This commitment to “free” higher education for some has only been affordable by limiting, or “capping,” the number of places that can be offered to domiciled Scots.
The SNP is very fond of using the mantra that entrance to university should be “based…