Former Student and First Minister Accuses University of Elitism

Alex Salmond claims St Andrews lacks a social mix amongst its students.

Alumnus and former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond called the University of St Andrews “elitist” during an interview on the BBC’s Question Time programme.

He justified this claim by saying the university admits fewer students from poorer backgrounds than other institutions in Scotland.

Photo: Flickr

In his interview, Mr. Salmond compared St Andrews to the University of Glasgow: “They are both highly rated internationally orientated universities but Glasgow has a huge social mix in its student population, St Andrews doesn’t.”

He added: “These are two examples of two outstanding universities, but one of which I think fulfils its duty to the population as a whole by educating people across the social spectrum and the other I am afraid, does not.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The University responded by saying that Mr. Salmond’s claims were “mostly blethers” but that they “were glad to see […] the true style of a St Andrews debater.”

They additionally accused Mr. Salmond of being out of touch with present day St Andrews, highlighting the fact that they are “one of the few Scottish universities to be ahead of the curve in meeting the SNP Government’s ambitious targets on widening access to our universities.”

The specific target is a national initiative to increase the percentage of underprivileged students at every individual Scottish university to 10 percent by 2021.

Additionally, the total percentage of students from Scotland’s poorest 20 percent at university will increase to 16 percent of the total number of university students by 2021.

According to the Scottish Funding Council, 5.1 percent of admitted students to St Andrews came from Scotland’s that demographic in the 2015/2016 academic year.

The University increased this percentage by 7.2 percent for the 2016/2017 year in accordance with Nicola Sturgeon’s policy of increasing the percentage of students from disadvantaged backgrounds to 10 percent by 2021.

Wikimedia Commons

Willie Rennie, the representative for North East Fife in the Scottish Parliament, accused Mr.

Salmond of making “a cheap shot to make a political point and helps no one in the challenges Universities face.”

Mr. Rennie also praised the University in the strides it had made in outreach initiatives in its community.

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