Attempting to get more students from poorer backgrounds into St Andrews (pictured)– or any university – is important, but misses the point if the focus is entirely on getting more bums from poor backgrounds onto the same seats that have been occupied for generations by the privileged (Why are so few pupils from deprived backgrounds getting into one of Scotland's top universities?, Special report, December 2).

If successful, this strategy might enable more young people to use education to climb the social ladder and leave poverty behind, but the poverty, its causes and the communities which experience it remain.

Resources should be aimed not so much at getting students in, but rather at getting the universities to go out into the real world of poverty to join those who are trying to tackle the problem. University initiatives that support community projects and campaign groups challenging inequality and other social problems remain marginal, poorly funded and often subsidised by other public and voluntary sector organisations.

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Universities are a tremendous public resource, funded from everyone's taxes for social benefit. They are not just for those who sit in the lectures and graduate with degrees, irrespective of their social background.

Eurig Scandrett

North Berwick

Marc Lambert addresses Scotland's literacy problem without reference to the inconsistencies in the language (Writing wrongs, Essay of the week, December 2). Despite the repeated ululations of educators, politicians, employers and the like, things can only get worse due to the technological revolution. Today's youngsters play fast and loose with traditional spelling, with their abbreviated text messages and chat rooms. Academia, if it ever thought of making some adjustments has, I fear, missed the boat - and the young will take it all in their stride.

George B Anderson