Further increase in Scots studying at university and more taking education and science under SNP administration


From the HESA statistics and reported on the gov.scot website:

‘The number of people studying education at a Scottish university has increased by 10% in a year, according to statistics published today. Latest figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for 2016-17 show an extra 1,335 students enrolled in courses to study education – the largest percentage increase of all subject areas and contrasting with a decline of 3% across the whole of the UK. Science-based subjects also saw a 3% rise in student numbers – with an extra 3,800 people enrolled in courses and outpacing the rate of increase across the rest of the UK. In particular, the number of students taking a computer science course in Scotland rose by 9% compared to 2015-16.’

Over the 10-year period of SNP administration, the number of Scots starting full-time degree courses has gone up 12%.



The increases in education and science are particularly welcome to help Scotland maintain its already superior ratio of teachers to pupils. The teacher education numbers are, of course, controlled by Scottish government funding. See:

SNP Government increases teacher numbers to create far superior pupil/teacher ratios and much smaller attainment gaps than in England


5 thoughts on “Further increase in Scots studying at university and more taking education and science under SNP administration

  1. Alasdair Macdonald January 12, 2018 / 10:37 pm

    There is a cyclic nature to ‘popular’ subjects, and science, technology, engineering and maths have had several waves of popularity.

    When I started secondary school in 1960, this was just three years after Sputnik, and this galvanised the US and the ‘West’ of the time to invest in a major review of science and mathematics curricula and teaching. It was a remarkable effort and completed in a pretty short time. From my pedagogical perspective, looking back, I think it was one of the best educational initiatives there has been, notwithstanding that it was politically motivated. Many of the educational support material, particularly film, was outstanding and ordinary punter’s weans, like I, were exposed to presentations by Nobel laureates based in Stanford, MIT, Cornell etc. There was really innovative educational psychology underpinning it. When we went to secondary – and in those days, we still had to pass ‘the Qualy’ – we were given a pretty overt steer into the sciences and maths, explicitly to help us survive ‘Red Menace’. However, there was no Lysenkoism in the science, it was pure science, well presented, and, apart from the nuclear stuff, absent of any doctrinaire distortion. I mad many of my peers lapped it up. Even at the time I retired in 2009, I found some of the teaching materials and they stood the test of time.

    I think that the curriculum designers were genuine believers in the liberal, broad and balanced curriculum, which encouraged reflection and creativity, but coupled with an intellectual rigour and well grounded objective facts.

    However, once the genie of education is out of the bottle, the creativity that arises cannot be stifled – it often faces opposition, but, being creative, it always subverts the plans. One of the approaches to teaching is ‘objectives based’ methods, and, properly implemented, it has a lot to offer and to commend it, but, on its own, it is not enough. Knowing ‘the facts’ is ultimately ‘inert knowledge’ unless they are applied, speculated about, put into other contexts, transformed. Objectives based approaches underpin things like PISA, TIMMS, National Tests, etc. because they are being used as instruments of control and that is why governments want them. The great Glaswegian educationist, Lawrence Stenhouse, who set up the Humanities Project in England and a beet noir of the Black Paper reactionaries, devastatingly, put the objectives approach in its place: Education is not about learning more and more facts and already known ‘predicted outcomes,, the purpose of education is to produce things which are not known.’

    Sorry for going slightly off tack, but, it is interesting that the politically motivated curriculum change was actually creatively liberating. By 1968, the generation who had had that education were demonstrating and debating and scaring the life out of the politicians, as they occupied campuses in London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, and right across the United States. By the 1970s the curriculum was facing calls far more tight control, teachers were under more pressure to ‘comply’. The Tories started creating fears of ‘failing schools, instituted widespread testing, league tables, etc and, new Labour actually continued much of this.


  2. johnrobertson834 January 13, 2018 / 11:01 am

    Fascinating thoughts. Thanks. Like the idea of a ‘beet noir’. Good with black pudding?


    • Alasdair Macdonald January 13, 2018 / 5:57 pm

      That’s no very nice makin a fule o an old man who cannae type very well after slicing aff part o his finger while cutting through a tomato – it wisnae a beet a beet!


      • Alasdair Macdonald January 13, 2018 / 10:17 pm

        Done it again! It ought to have been: ‘it wisnae a beet but a bete, but’.


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