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The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has welcomed the findings in the latest chapter of the UCAS’ End of Cycle Report, which shows the gap between most and least disadvantaged university students in Scotland has closed for the third consecutive year.

UCAS’ statement said: “There are differences across the UK higher education sector, with students from quintile 1 almost as likely to enter lower tariff providers as those from quintile 5. Though this ratio at higher tariff providers continues to decrease, as it has done since 2009, progress is slowing. Young people from quintile 5 are 5.74 times more likely to study at a higher tariff university than those from quintile 1.

The gap is gradually closing in Scotland, where the SIMD measure is used. Those from the least deprived areas are now 3.26 times more likely to go to university compared to 18 year olds from the most deprived areas, representing the third consecutive year the gap has reduced. The entry rate gap reduces further when students up to the age of 20 are included.”

SFC Interim Chief Executive John Kemp, said:

“Learners from our most disadvantaged communities should have the same chance as everyone else to realise their potential – otherwise we are wasting talent and perpetuating inequality.

“This analysis of university applicant characteristics shows that the gap between university entry rates from the most and the least deprived areas of Scotland has reduced for the third year in a row. Although there is much more to be done, this is a positive sign that, with universities, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council working closely together, we can change things for the better.”