English attack 'bias' at Edinburgh University

For generations, English students have flocked north to Edinburgh in search of a world-class education. Charles Darwin, the two-time Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and the novelist Bruce Chatwin were just three of the university's most celebrated Sassenach alumni.

But the ancient institution, founded in 1582 and still ranked in the top 20 in the world, has been accused of displaying an "anti-English" bias by favouring applications from Scottish candidates. The university said yesterday that locals were "afforded a small weighting in the admissions selection process" in the most popular subjects.

The confession has confirmed the suspicions of headteachers at two of England's leading private schools. Richard Cairns, of Brighton College, said that all but two of the 27 students applying to Edinburgh from his school were turned down, while nearly half of those who sought places at elite universities in England received an offer.

"Scotland used to have a proud tradition of looking outwards and attracting some of the greatest international minds to its universities," Mr Cairns said. "Edinburgh has opted to turn in on itself and in a manner that strikes me as potentially both illegal and racist. I know how sixth-formers in Edinburgh would feel if Oxford University had a policy of favouring students from the South-east applying for popular subject areas. They would be outraged."

Andrew Halls, the headmaster of King's College School, Wimbledon, in south-west London, said that his upper-sixth students faced a similar problem. "We will be advising students not to apply in future, until they sort out their rather perverse admissions, which appears to be anti-English," he said.

An Edinburgh University spokeswoman said that last year 38.3 per cent of English applicants received an offer and that the number of students from south of the border continued to rise in percentage terms. The most keenly contested subjects were those in the humanities. The university added: "In common with other selective universities, the University of Edinburgh wishes to ensure that highly able students from its local area are encouraged to study at one of their local universities, despite intense pressure on places."

The Scottish Funding Council, which allocates public money to universities in Scotland and last year awarded Edinburgh £77.5m to fund its teaching programmes, said admission policies were "autonomous and independent".

Many elite institutions in the UK operate policies which seek to favour students from lower-income families who have never benefited from higher education.

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
tv
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
News
peopleJay Z and Beyoncé to buy £5.5m London townhouse
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
Arts & Entertainment
With Jo Joyner in 'Trying Again'
tvHe talks to Alice Jones on swapping politics for pillow talk
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Arts & Entertainment
tvJudge for yourself
Life & Style
tech
News
Tough call: is the psychological distress Trott is suffering an illness? (Getty)
healthJonathan Trott and the problems of describing mental illness
Life & Style
23 April 2014: Google marks St George's Day with a drawing depicting England's patron saint slaying a fire-breathing dragon
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Reception Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Reception teacher required for an Outs...

DT Teacher - Food Technology

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job We are currently recr...

KS1 Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Luton: KS1 Teachers needed to work on supply ...

English Teacher

£120 - £140 per day + ?DOE: Randstad Education Maidstone: English Teacher Kent...

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents