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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 14:12 GMT
University aims to be less elitist
Edinburgh University
The university wants to break down its exclusive image
Edinburgh University is taking radical steps to break down its exclusive image and bring in more students from poorer areas.

From next year the university will consider every student's family background as well as their exam results, BBC Scotland can reveal.

Plans involve a number of initiatives to bring in more students from disadvantaged areas.

The university is battling an elitist image and is failing to meet targets for widening participation.

Because of this it is planning to overhaul its admissions process to take into account more than just exam results.

A new scoring system will mark students on such factors as the school they attended, their parents' jobs and whether anyone in their family has been to university.

It will be the first time any Scottish university has systematically assessed all of its applicants this way.

And the university said it is the first step in a much wider programme to break down its exclusive image.

Edinburgh University crest
The institution has over 20,000 students

Minimum threshold

The university's Principal, Professor Timothy O' Shea, said that he was "uncomfortable" with Edinburgh ranking alongside Oxford, Cambridge and St Andrews as one of the most elitist institutions in the country.

He said massive demand for places at the university had resulted in its increasing the entry grades required.

"As we know, the Higher and A-level entry grades are not particularly good indicators of university performance", he said.

"What the University of Edinburgh has now decided to do is go for a minimum threshold rather than continuing to ratchet up grades."

What the University of Edinburgh has now decided to do is go for a minimum threshold rather than continuing to ratchet up grades
University principal
Professor Timothy O'Shea

He said the minimum grades - 4Bs at Higher or 3Bs at A-level - would still be quite high by UK standards.

He said other factors that would be considered were: evidence of motivation; personal qualities; suitability and resourcefulness.

Extra credit would be given if no-one in the applicant's family had been to university, Prof O'Shea added.

There will also be extra credits given to disabled people and those whose schooling has been disrupted by family tragedy or some other traumatic event.

Martha Fairlie reports
"Edinburgh has a reputation for being exclusive"

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06 Feb 03 |  HE reaction

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