ONE of the most hotly disputed topics in Scottish education in recent years has been the subject of university entry.

Since the introduction of fees for students from the rest of the UK (rUK), two admissions procedures have actually run in tandem.

One covers students from Scotland and the EU, who have their tuition fees paid for them, while the other offers places to rUK students, who are charged up to £9,000 a year.

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The controversy centres on the fact the system which matches prospective students with available places - known as clearing - appears to some to favour those from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This week, as in previous years, clearing places will be available for Scots at some institutions on some courses, but the expectation is that more universities will go into clearing for rUK pupils.

However, that does not mean Scots are missing out. The vast majority - some 96 per cent - apply at the beginning of S6 when they already know their S5 Highers results, are given unconditional offers and, therefore, have no need to go into clearing.

In contrast, rUK students apply before knowing A-level results, are given conditional offers and are, therefore, more likely to use clearing to get a place if results do not match expectations.