Access to University: 4th November 2015

Mark Menzies (Fylde) (Con)
10. If the Government will make an assessment of access to university education for people from the lowest income families in (a) England and (b) Scotland. [901906]

The Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise (Anna Soubry)
I am very pleased to report that the most recent UCAS statistics show a record year for university entry for disadvantaged students domiciled in England: 18.2% in 2014 compared with 13.6% in 2009. Unfortunately, the situation in Scotland is not as good; only 10% of the poorest 20% of Scots attend university, which is very concerning.

Mark Menzies
My right hon. Friend the Minister anticipated my supplementary question. As someone who came from a working-class background from the west coast of Scotland and who went to university in Scotland, I am deeply concerned about how Scotland is now lagging behind England and how working-class poor people are losing out.

Anna Soubry
It may sound strange: an English Tory elected to a Scottish university, but as a former honorary president of Stirling university—an outstanding university—I share my hon. Friend’s concerns, and indeed the Scottish Government could learn a great deal from the experience of the English universities.