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Mac forced to turn away 'too many' Scottish students

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Scottish universities are turning away an unacceptable number of homegrown architecture students because of government caps limiting the number of places on offer, the head of the Mac has warned

Christopher Platt, head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art, said the university was spurning ‘too many’ Scottish students, even though they had the required grades.

While students from England and Wales have to pay tuition fees of up to £9,000 when studying in Scotland, fees for homegrown talent are funded by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland. However, these ‘free’ places are limited.

Platt said he was already lobbying the Scottish government over the issue. ‘The number of funded places is capped by the Scottish government,’ he said. ‘We turn away too many Scottish students. It’s not satisfactory. It’s a situation we are looking to change.’

The latest data from Scotland’s Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that the number of homegrown architecture students at Scottish universities dropped from 1,205 in 2012-13 to 1,120 in 2013-14 – a fall of 7 per cent. The proportion of domestic students studying architecture at all Scottish universities dropped from 58.5 per cent to 55.8 per cent over the same period.

Mackintosh School of Architecture student graphic

At the Mac, the number of Scottish students studying for their Part 1 has dropped from 330 in 2009 to 207 in 2015. Over the same period, Part 2 numbers fell from 126 to 69. In contrast, the number of undergraduate students from the rest of the UK and overseas has ballooned from 75 to 102 and its postgraduate intake of non-Scottish students has risen from 40 to 58.

The picture at the Mac is mirrored elsewhere. According to 2014 figures supplied by Edinburgh University, Scotland-domiciled students made up just 22 per cent of entrants, significantly lower than the overall figure of 55.8 per cent studying architecture across all Scottish universities.

A spokesperson for Edinburgh University said: ‘The Scottish Government places strict limits on the number of students we admit from Scotland and the EU. [But] our recruitment of fee-paying students has no bearing on the number of Scotland-domiciled students we admit.’

Stuart Falconer of Glasgow-based practice GRAS said: ‘Rather than being quota-based, applicants should be accepted on the basis of the quality of their portfolio and academic achievements. If this favours more international students, so be it, but at least it offers everyone a fair run.’

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