Scottish University clearings open for Scottish students
This is really important for the reassurance of students, applicants and parents across Scotland at what I know can be a stressful time of year.
First, Scots are not fighting for fewer places at Scottish universities. In fact three per cent more Scots have taken up a place at a Scottish university this year, compared to last – and there are additional funded places available in science and technology subjects and at the new University of the Highlands and Islands.
Second, university places that are ring-fenced for Scottish and EU students cannot go to anyone else except Scottish and EU students. This ring-fencing of places for Scots is so strict that there is no getting around, under or over it. Of course, students from the rest of the UK are very welcome in Scotland but no university is able to take in a fee-paying student from elsewhere over a ‘free’ Scot.
Nor is it true that universities’ doors are now shut to Scottish students. As I write, close to two weeks after Higher results came out, there are still a few places available through clearing to Scots at some universities on courses as varied as business, engineering, science, computing and subjects linked to the creative industries. Hundreds of Scots have already taken up places through clearing. Students still looking for a place are urged to contact universities directly. Just as last year, once the dust settles, the vast majority of well qualified Scots that want a place at university will get one.
It’s true that the system of university places has changed this year; it had to, in response to changes at universities south of the border. But the changes in Scotland were driven by the objective to protect places for Scots at Scottish universities. Failure to change the system would have seen thousands more applicants from England, Wales and Northern Ireland flooding university admissions in Scotland, looking to escape fees of £9,000 and competing directly against Scots for a limited number of free places. The sheer volume of ‘fee refugees’ as they would have been called would have inevitably forced out some Scots. This has been avoided.
At a personal level, I can completely understand how unfair it seems if a student misses out on his/her place at university, particularly after years of hard work at school. However, I want to offer every reassurance that the system is designed and run to be as fair as possible within the limits of finite resources.
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