PUPILS from high attaining schools are better prepared for university applications than peers from deprived areas, research carried out in Stirling confirmed.

Social sciences researchers at the University of Stirling looked at guidance and advice given to students applying to university from different public schools across Scotland.

They found that while high attaining schools focused on preparing pupils to be desirable to leading higher education institutions, the focus at low attaining schools was on persuading students that university is advantageous.

Jennifer Ferguson, a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Social Sciences, led the team who interviewed nine teachers from six schools and 25 young people from 18 schools with the report published in the journal Social Sciences.

She explained: “The research highlights the big differences in the preparation for higher education between state schools.

“This sends a powerful message to local authorities and education providers that if they are striving for fair access to higher education across all schools, then they must start preparing and persuading students of all backgrounds much earlier.”

The report added: “Within the most advantaged schools, there was a long-term commitment to actively build the skills that institutions desired and undertake one-to-one interviews to ensure the personal statement was pitched correctly.

“Amongst the most deprived communities, there was evidence of a long-term ‘battle’ by teachers to foster student aspirations and encourage them to reach their potential.

“This appears to lead to teachers focusing on persuading students to apply, rather than preparing them longer-term to be desirable.”