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Only least privileged students accepted to study law at Edinburgh University

Some have applauded the university for helping to ‘break poverty cycles’


Edinburgh University chose to only accept students from deprived backgrounds to study certain subjects in 2022, figures show.

Of 1,205 applicants to study law, 555 were deemed to be from more advantaged backgrounds, whereas 650 were from deprived areas of the country or underperforming schools. 170 students from deprived backgrounds were accepted, while none from more wealthy backgrounds were offered a place.

The figures were obtained by Labour MSP Michael Marra, who told The Scotsman newspaper of his disappointment at the findings: “We now have hundreds of ordinary young Scots applying to our top universities who in reality have no chance of getting in”.

“A basic principle of a Scottish education is now being breached. You study hard, you get the good grades you deserve and you get into university”.

The University of Edinburgh said it is making a sustained effort to ensure meaningful social mobility is achieved, but that the number of students it can accept from Scotland is capped by the government, because it funds free tuition for Scottish students.

Despite criticism of the university, others have applauded the revelations. Vonnie Sandlan, the former president of NUS Scotland, wrote on Twitter that: “More students enrolling from state schools with low progression rates to uni, and students coming from poorer household income families is A GOOD THING”.

The university uses a flagging system to ensure those from more deprived backgrounds are offered places. Applicants who come from an area in the top 40% most deprived parts of Scotland, or a school with low attainment, are given a flag. A “plus flag” is given to particularly disadvantaged students including refugees, who are virtually guaranteed a place to study.

In 2022, no students without a flag were offered a place to study law at the University of Edinburgh, the BBC reports.