Researchers from Edinburgh University found the amount of grant funding available to poorer students had actually diminished under the SNP as they moved towards repayable loans.
And the report said there was "very little difference" in the overall funding package available to students from more and less socially advantaged backgrounds.
The issue was raised in a submission to the Economic and Social Research Council's independence referendum research project by Edinburgh University academic Professor Sheila Riddell.
Her report states: "Funding packages available to students from poorer backgrounds are considerably more generous elsewhere in the UK.
"Scotland has adopted a universalist approach to higher education funding, treating all students virtually the same irrespective of family background, but this has not been redistributive in its effect."
The report also repeated the findings of a publication by Edinburgh University academics which said there was little evidence the SNP's abolition of tuition fees had encouraged more poorer people to go to university.
Less than a tenth of pupils in Scotland and England go to private school, but they make up over a fifth of pupils at Edinburgh, Aberdeen, St Andrews and Glasgow universities.