University and College Union report: a dismal failure.


by Dave Taylor

A report published this week by the University and College Union (UCU), the trade union representing college and university teaching and professional staff, highlighted a supposed great disparity in education levels between Glasgow and Edinburgh.  Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said: “There is a clear Glasgow-Edinburgh divide in Scotland.  One city with education and the massive personal benefits it can bring, and the other without.”

Well, I certainly hope that Sally Hunt isn’t teaching in a Scottish University.  One of the most basic requirements in research is to understand the data you are dealing with.  She clearly doesn’t.

The report highlights the percentage of 16-64 year olds in each constituency with no formal educational qualifications.

However, between 1965 and 1987, English and Welsh pupils had access to the Certificate of Education (CSE) Exams, where a Grade 1 equalled an O-Level pass, and had other awards below that level – a bit like the Standard Grade system.

Standard Grades were eventually introduced in 1989 in Scotland, and for the first time, all Scots pupils had access to formal qualifications.  Everyone in England & Wales aged 62 and under had the opportunity to get formal qualifications.  That is only true for Scots aged 38 and under.

24 successive years of school leavers in Scotland who didn’t have the chance to sit exams makes a helluva difference to the numbers!

Why the difference between Edinburgh and Glasgow?  In the 1970’s Lothian enthusiastically adopted CSE exams run by the North Regional Exam Board in Newcastle.  Strathclyde refused to follow suit.