There is good news for Scottish students, as the Higher Education Statistics Agency report figures showing that those attending universities in Scotland have better statistical likelihood of getting a First Class degree than counterparts in the rest of the UK.
HESA reports that 74 per cent of Scots graduated with a First, demonstrating Scottish higher education success rates well ahead of England’s figure of 70 per cent, Wales at 65 per cent and Northern Ireland at 71 per cent.
Since before the enlightenment, Scottish universities have had a reputation throughout Britain and the wider world for the quality of our education. These HESA’s findings support this view, but also raise the question of exactly where the superiority comes from. Multiple differences, both environmental and academic contribute to overall improvements in student lifestyle and focus.
Tuition fees are an obvious example of much needed student support which is relatively lacking elsewhere in the country. With all Scottish students receiving free SAAS tuition, and bursaries on offer to those from low income families, there is less pressure on students in Scotland to balance the requirements of full-time study with the demanding work hours necessary to fund study and living costs.
Furthermore, Scottish universities are taking steps to combat taboo issues within the academic community. Issues such as mental health discrimination can have negative effects on student performance, and increase the likelihood of dropping out. Scotland has proven itself strong in providing support, counselling, and awareness campaigns, such as the recently announced collaboration between the National Union of Students and the charity See Me.
Yet the deciding factor in Scottish student success is that we lead within our fields. Universities are increasingly channelling funding into their strongest courses, ensuring Scotland’s reputation for quality research is ever increasing. The Research Excellence Framework classes 77 per cent of Scottish research as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, placing us above average within the UK.
So students take heart! Next time you’re panicking about what graduation brings, be comforted by the thought that your elusive dream of a First may be a little more attainable than you think.
[Helen Murray – @HelenVMurray]