A report suggesting that Scottish universities are the worst in the UK for widening access has failed to capture significant progress over the past year, according to Universities Scotland.
The publication by the Higher Education Statistics Agency of Widening Participation of Under-Represented Groups found that only 26.6 per cent of full-time, first-degree entrants in Scotland in 2011-12 came from social economic classes 4-7, compared with 30.7 per cent across the UK. The percentage of those from state schools was 1 per cent lower at 87.9 per cent than the UK figure.
But Universities Scotland director Alastair Sim said it was unfortunate that the time-lag on the data meant it did not reflect the "big step-up to widen access" that universities had recently taken.
He said institutions had signed up to outcome agreements and were working hard to recruit applicants to 700 additional places set aside for students from the poorest neighbourhoods.