Rise in the number of Scots applying for university places | Autonomy Scotland

Rise in the number of Scots applying for university places

Often, when I read things in the media, the way in which an article is written sets off a wee alarm bell.

I had that feeling this morning while reading this report with the following headline.


Don’t get me wrong, I really wish that more disadvantaged students did apply to go to University.

However, there was something about the way this article was written that aroused the suspicion that I wasn’t being told the full story.

Here is the paragraph that seemed off to me.

Where is the context?

In order for the reader to be able to judge the magnitude of the problem, we would need to know two things. The first is what was the figure last year and the second is, what is the long-term trend?

It took me about 5 minutes to discover the answer by looking at the actual report.

It turns out that the actual decrease from last year is miniscule.


And it turns out that the number of poor students applying has increased by 67 percent over the last 12 years.


As I said at the start, I think the number of people applying from disadvantaged areas should be higher.

I think it is fair to put some blame at the door of the Scottish Government that the figure isn’t better.

However, I don’t see any excuse for writing articles like this without context.

The reason that the context is missing is that the negative slant of the article isn’t justified by the context. Given the bigger picture, at best you could argue that a long-term increase has stalled.

This is either sloppy journalism or it is just plain downright manipulative.

Would it have been too much to ask for the BBC to go for a more justified positive headline? Because as they point out in the article.


It would have been perfectly acceptable to lead with that but also highlight the decrease in applications from the most disadvantaged.

I guess the old mantra is true, if it bleeds it leads.

Still, even if they made an editorial decision to go for a negative clickbait headline, there is no justification for the lack of context.

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6 years ago

Some additional info from the intro to the report.

In Scotland, there is a substantial component (around one third of young full-time undergraduate study) where admissions are not processed through UCAS (see note at the end of this report). Consequently, for Scotland, this report reflects the trends in applications that are recruited through UCAS and not, as elsewhere in the UK, fulltime undergraduate study in general.

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