27/11/2012 Newsnight


Does the government's employment scheme work? Is Murdoch worried by advertisers or Leveson? Foreign words in dictionaries. And news from Israel and Palestine. With Jeremy Paxman.

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family from future problems. Much as they may want to protect them


from events, it may not be the decision in the event -- in the end.


Tonight on Newsnight Scotland, should our top universities be


forced to take more students from poor backgrounds? And should they


be fined if they don't? St Andrews says it's trying but


it's not prepared to lower its standards. Does the university have


a point? Good evening. This looks like a


classic conflict of right against right. The Scottish Government


wants more students from poor backgrounds to go to university.


The universities go along to an extent, but insist they can't lower


their standards and are suspicious of any suggestion of quotas. Today


St Andrews became the latest to try to square the circle. But will it


work? Here's Seonag Mackinnon. It is sometimes referred to as


Scotland's Oxford, and with the future king and queen among its


graduates, little wonder. But even that Prince William has shown his


commitment to recruiting more youngsters from poorer backgrounds.


The appeal we are launching today aims to raise �100 million to


invest in people and ideas. Insuring that the brightest


students, that is you and me of course, come to St Andrews


regardless of background and circumstances.


Ba Miller and Christopher, who come from state schools in Fife, save


the reputation is overstated and should not put applicants offer.


When I first came, it was strange hearing all the accents. My room-


mate was from Chicago, and when we first met each other I was so


excited about seeing an American and he was so excited about seeing


a Scotsman, but we were not too intimidated by each other's accents.


St Andrews is very international, and that is one of the things I


like about being here. It is a bit intimidating if you come from


somewhere local, but it is one of the best parts of being at the


University. By last year's St Andrews only


admitted 14 from Scotland's most disadvantaged homes. Today the


university says it hopes to increase that to 20, set aside an


extra �400,000 for bursaries. Student leaders are underwhelmed.


By would expect a few -- a bit more ambition. It seems they are coming


up with excuses about what they can't do rather than saying what


they can do. We have seen good evidence from elsewhere but you can


look at offering slightly different rates depending on the type of


school you have been at. But the university says it makes an


offer to the majority of those who apply from poorer homes, and it


says that Vestey on campus cannot just be the responsibility of


university leaders. -- diversity. It is about the wider cultural of


attainment in Scotland. It is wrong to say it is just the point of


leaving secondary school and entering university. Is it down to


the schools that not enough students have the ambition? I think


it is everything, and the universities can do more to create


aspiration, but we also have to have engagement from everywhere


else in society in relation to the wider societal effort.


Sir is Scotland failing its poorest students? In 2011 across Scotland,


2.5% of them got at least three A grades in their hires. In East


Renfrewshire it was 5.6%. Edinburgh, just 1.4%.


They there are about 220 people from those backgrounds who have the


basic qualifications to come here, and that would be three a pass


higher exams. If we can take 20 from that 220, that is 10%. We did


not represent 10% of Scotland's capacity in Scotland's education.


St Andrew's say they do not want to admit...


The Scottish Government says it understands the dilemma and


commence steps forward, but warns universities it may apply more


pressure. Be it is a modest step forward, but it is a step forward


and I think sick and resistor be commended for recognising the need


to be admit students from elsewhere. I want to see progress on this -


every one of Scotland wants to see progress and progress is welcomed.


They are on Lake -- also right to argue they are not the only players.


There are ways to get children from poorer backgrounds into further and


higher education. Everyone agrees to few from modest


homes win places on campuses, but the big question is billed the


threat from -- of a cut from public funding UCCA any time soon, or


achieve a breakthrough? I'm joined now from Dundee by St


Andrews University's vice-principal responsible for admissions, Stephen


Magee. Here in Glasgow is Gerry Lyons, head teacher of St Andrews


secondary school in Carntyne, who's speaking on behalf of the School


Leaders Scotland organisation. And in Edinburgh Dr Cristina Ianelli,


an educational sociologist specialising in social mobility.


21st of all explain, this document that you should today with these


commitments on it - what is the status of that, is that an


agreement you have made with the Scottish Government? Partly. Many


of these things which are in the statement, for example the increase


in bursaries, up or articulation of routes with further education


colleges, we are doing already. understand that, but there had been


some suggestions that the Scottish Government might find it


universities, but it was not happy we were doing enough to increase


intake from poorer backgrounds? the moment we are in the process of


negotiating outcome agreements, which is what the Cabinet Secretary


referred to. These have not been finalised now -- yet. So it would


in theory be possible for the Scottish funding council to come


back and say, that is not good enough? Bay would ask us by our


ambition is at that scale, and we have tried to explain to date why


we want to put in as much effort as we can't, but we are committed to


this absolutely. We have to get across the scale of the problem,


and a great deal of effort is going to have to go in to accept Bevis


more changes. This is you're opening bid, from what you are


saying? No, there was an outcome agreement last year, but this was a


prototype. This is part of the ongoing process of discussing a


widely just how complex this problem is, and showing each


institution's commitment to solving it. But the point is you have to


come to an agreement, you have not done it yet, and this is your


attempt to say, is that good enough? This is part of it, there


is more to it. Presumably, is there are thinning it in the university


but you are being asked to do two things but or contradictory? You


are in a situation where in England they now have tuition fees, so you


are under great pressure to keep standards up, particularly in


research, but on the other hand you have to take people from poorer


backgrounds? That is correct, there is the possibility of a


contradiction, but I think we can do both those things. But all of


this institution within which I work is committed to excellence in


teaching research, but also being accessible. If we want to be


accessible, and we want to allow young Scots to rub shoulders with


very bright people from the rest of the world. A commitment on you're


part to take six more students from poorer backgrounds is hardly


staggering. There are the best part of 30,000 places available in


Scottish Higher Education four degrees each year, in St Andrews


about 500. If we increase the number to 20, that 20 represents


quite a big number out of the hall capacity. I want to bring the other


people in, but a lot of people will understand your predicament as a


university, and many of your Ordnance may have merit. The


problem of this idea of we will do our bit, but it is a broader


societal problem, is that everybody says it is a broad problem to do


with society and Ben Franklin nothing happens. Up by am hoping


something does happen. To the evidence in the coming years will


show we are actually doing quite a lot. Dr Cristina Ianelli, do


sympathise with their predicament? I do, because I think it is a


complex phenomenon. So-so inequalities are starting from when


people on board. There is no doubt that people who experience live


conditions which or very disadvantaged, they bring these


disadvantages onwards in their life, and in the school and in the labour


market. There is no doubt that this is not just education, the problem


is more a societal problem, and in that -- inequalities which exist in


our society. But they have an obligation to counteract this


imbalance. Gerry Lyons, do you think the University of ordering


enough? Imagine it if you scroll, we were trying to get eight more


students to get better grades? Fundamentally it is about the


intake. I think you have to engage with the problem of and parts of


the problem you can impact on, and certainly in schools that is what


we try to do. There are a range of things we can do to counteract


disadvantage and give young people opportunities that perhaps might be


deprived -- might deprive them if it were not for the quality of the


work the schools do. A if you look at the statistics for Scotland in


general, there does not seem to be any evidence that that is happening.


By would dispute that. In the two schools are served in Glasgow, we


increased the number of people going on to universities by 11% in


one and 6% in the other in the last How many more students do you have


going to university? We now have 25% of school levers going on the


university. My school was 1640 young people. Of those 1640, how


many last year got what Stephen Magee would want, and correct me if


I am wrong, I think is three As and a B. Three As and a B. Could cha be


one sitting? They can come back in the sixth year. In the main one


sitting is to be preferred. many of your students... In one


sitting you would talk about 6% of that year group. That is the fourth


year, year group. You are talking about 25 young people. Right. In


fact you think you would have 25 young people coming out of your


school, one school, that could go to Stephen Magee's university.


Absolutely. Do they want do that? Interestingly, know they no they


don't. That is one of the issues that Steven has to address, of the


220 young people from deprived areas who got the necessary


qualification to go to St Andrews only 55 applied to go there. 34 of


them were offered placed and only 14 took them. There is an issue for


St Andrews which I am sure Steven is happy to engage with, which is


about how do you make St Andrews more of a viable option for young


people from deprived backgrounds, and challenge that perception,


which is that is for another group of people in our society and not


for us.. If I can come in, I think that is absolutely right. I would


dearly love to be able to persuade my fellow Glaswegians is a good


option. Why do you think will have a problem? It is a very ugly phrase


but we are least local credit union versety in Scotland. Possibly the


least lobg in the UK. 95% of our students don't come from this area.


They have to commute, they have to live here. Typically we are


attracting good student from a variety of schools rather than a


large number from a small variety as you might find in Glasgow. In


the case of Gerry's school... wouldn't find that in Edinburgh?


is a large urban population, it is not the same at all. In the case of


Gerry's school. We had six application in the last were to


three years and two entrants which I think is about pretty good


average, given the numbers we are talking about. We can do more.


you think there is a problem as it were on the other side, t it is not


that universities need to do more to attract people from poorer


background, but there is a barrier to people perceiving. Even if they


do have the academic results, they perceive they don't want to go?


agree. When I speak with a widening access with from the University of


Edinburgh. They complain they don't have enough applicants with lower


social background, so there is a perception among students from less


advantaged background they can't fit in in those university, in that


sense we can do much more, and the university can do nor show it is


not an elitist university. It is an elitist credit union versety


because it produces high quality research. This is the kind of


things which should attract everybody, all the student


population, not just the most advantaged students. What do you


student, the ones who get the pass, what do they say to you about why


they don't want to go places like St Andrews? They very much focus on,


I think, the local university, a lot of them apply to Glasgow,


Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian and their focus is very much there.


Interestingly because those universities engage directly with


us. Our young people have link programmes with those university,


they spend time in them, they are mentored by students from those


universities, there is a widening access programme there. Stephen


right, we have sent students to St Andrews but in my time I have never


engaged from anyone from St Andrews although I would be delight dod so.


I think that is an invitation. would delighted to take it up. I


will write to Gerry in the morning. That is excellent. There is a high


Newsnight Scotland commissioning fee! Of course! We can discuss


that! We write to every high school in Scotland. Let us they have 350.


We visit 100 every year. If you consider the number of students


that enter St Andrews in a given year from Scotland, about 500. We


are probably getting on average one or two kids, not from every school


every year, but pretty much you know, good standard of, at that


level. Right. OK. I think all of you agree, that there is a problem


here. And it is a fairly wide based problem. But the danger is, as we


talked about earlier, if we keep saying it is very broad based,


nothing gets down. I am curious, Dr Cristina Ianelli, if there were two


or three things we could do to address this problem of


underachievement, if you like, what would they be? Well, Well, some


international research has shown that the best way actually to


improve the educational attainment of people from lower social


backgrounds is really rising standards, not damping down the


standards. We wouldn't do any favour to them, or to our education


system. So you would agree with Stephen Magee, under no


circumstances should St Andrews for example, there shouldn't be a quota


system, they shouldn't be taking students of lesser academic


qualification just because they are from poor backgrounds? Well it's a


difficult issue, I think not always educational attainment is showing


the real potential of people. If you are born in a lower social


background with less resources in a school which is disadvantaged, you


have not had the same possibility to achieve highly as people from


other area, so in some ways I am not saying that they have to reduce


the standards, I am saying maybe they should consider clearly this


other circumstances, if, you know, they can achieve, they can accept


to students who have less than three As but have some other ways


of measures the potential, the ability of the students, I would


endorse that, because I still think again, that students not all


students have the same possibility to achieve those high standards.


alternative to this. What would you, Gerry, what would you suggest?


couple of practical suggestion, one is we consider a more sophisticated


approach to what other university - - what are the university admission


criteria. There is research going into contextualised application and


looking at the circumstances of a young person round gaveing five As


at Higher, if you are a young carer or come from a deprived background


or some other challenging circumstances that some young


people come from, is at time a greater achieve and bigger


challenge. The argument against that is you have to stop this at


some point. There is a good reason for that, because when people go


out into the big wide world and get a job, employers are not going to


say you want to be an engineer, we understand you don't really


understand aerodynamics very well but you come from a poor background


so we will take you on. Totally agree. I have no desire to lower


aspiration, I would like a better of what high achievement is for


them. The other thing about that research done by the top up


programme at Glasgow University showed people who went through the


top up programme performed better at university, than young people


from so-called wealthier backgrounds, by the time they left


university, so there is no sense those young people... Are


disadvantage, in fact they did better. Very brief last word to


Stephen Magee. Very brief. You have heard what they want from you. What,


one thing you would like from them? I would like to work with them to


encourage aspiration, that is the most important thing Welsh are


committed to do it. If we can raise aspiration across the piece, that


will help everybody. All right. We will have to leave it there. Thank


you very much indeed. Quick look at you very much indeed. Quick look at


the front pages. The BBC is on the The Independent, there it is


supergrass who held key to Russian fraud is found dead in Surrey.


Ministers blame each other for low growth according to the financial


times. That is it, I will be back Different complexion to weather in


the next few days, more typical of late November and December, mostly


dry, which has to be good news. Not quite there yet. Some showers still


affecting parts of North East England, I am not anticipating huge


amounts of rain. In fact a bit of snow developing on the North York


Moors. Other county eastern England are prone to one or two showers but


the emphasis is on dry weather, and further west there will be few if


any showers. Sunshine in Wales and south-west England, so the clearing


up operation can continue here. Cold though, the wind coming from


the north. Temperatures never getting that high, despite the


sunshine. Sicks and sevens will be the peak in most places. Up across


Northern Ireland, after a frosty is that right, I think it is set to be


a fine day, with plenty of sunshine. The risk of a shower to the north


coast. Across the north of Scotland there will be a few wintry showers.


Most of Scotland will stay dry and bright. Two or three degrees


through the central bout belt. Northern parts of the country,


bright and dry, the emphasis on frosty night, bright chilly days,


further south as well, most places will be dry. There is the risk of


one or two wintry showers as we get through Thursday, and on into


Friday, but there few and far between on Thursday it will be


Does the government's employment scheme work? Is Murdoch worried by advertisers or Leveson? Plus, foreign words in dictionaries and a report on Israel and Palestine. With Jeremy Paxman.

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