Scotland is the worst part of the UK at getting school-leavers from poorer areas to university, and higher-than-average numbers of students are dropping out.
The Higher Education Statistics Authority found that slightly over a quarter of students came from the worst-off socio-economic groups in 2009- 10, the lowest figure since 2002 and below the UK average of 30 per cent.
Scottish universities have the smallest number of students from state schools (86.8 per cent) and the picture varies widely: St Andrews has only 59.4 per cent of students from state schools, while Edinburgh has 70.4 per cent.
Some 9.3 per cent of students dropped out in 2008-09, against a UK average of 7.9 per cent. The National Union of Students Scotland described the picture as "shameful", but the Scottish Funding Council said the figures were misleading because Scottish universities took many students from other home nations: they were, in fact, increasing intakes of students from deprived Scottish areas.