WHEN is a good news story not a good news story? When the middle classes are upset about it.

If there is not enough to go round, it's generally, even if grudgingly, accepted when those missing out are the poorest in society. But if the cloth doesn't stretch to cover the most upwardly mobile, those people used to getting what they expect, then there's hell to pay.

And so it is with widening access. The Scotsman newspaper reports that nine courses at the University of Edinburgh have had their places filled solely by pupils from less socio-economically advantaged backgrounds.

All of the young people accepted on to courses including law, business, Japanese, philosophy and psychology come from care experienced backgrounds, refugee or asylum seeking backgrounds, live in the top 40 per cent most deprived postcodes in Scotland or come from a state school where fewer pupils are likely to gain five Highers.

I haven't much insight into the workforce opportunities opened up to a young person with a Japanese degree but certainly the legal profession could do with a class shake up so the consequences of widening access there should be applauded.

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To uncover pupils' socio-economic background, education establishments generally use the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) where SIMD1 is the most deprived 20% of postcodes to SIMD5 being the least deprived.

While the terminology has its flaws, that's the standard descriptor. Talking about schools in terms of Higher results is similarly clunky but, again, this is how newspapers draft up the dreaded league tables and keep the appalling, reductive and frustrating phrase "good school" going.

When "good school" is mentioned it generally means a school in an economically thriving area filled with middle class pupils from middle class homes where pupils do well in exams because the cards are stacked in their favour. Yes, they work hard too, but largely without the stumbling blocks facing pupils from more deprived areas.

Widening access initiatives are always accompanied by pearl clutching about the prospects of the middle class children. It's a bit rum, isn't it, that a child might be disadvantaged due to accident of birth and their parents' fortunes? Well, that's what working class young people have been trying to say for long enough.

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So reactions on social media were awash with tiny violins. playing sarcastic laments for the plight of the rich.

The data used by The Scotsman came from Scottish Labour's education spokesman, Michael Marra. Which begs the question, what on earth is Scottish Labour thinking, criticising improvements for working class children? Still, when the party leader's kids are at private school, positive discrimination for disadvantaged young people must give them the collywobbles.

Labour has been so quick to criticise the SNP here that it has forgotten what it's supposed to stand for. In his comments, Mr Marra frets that widening participation initiatives are "closing the doors of our universities to whole swathes of young Scots." This is high drama.

Access to university is not closed to more well off pupils. Presumably the majority of the middle class young people who were turned down by Edinburgh Uni are not now signing up for Universal Credit or working in coffee shops - not that there's anything wrong with working in a coffee shop unless from the perspective of an aspirational middle class parent - they just didn't get their first choice of course.

And for many a coddled middle class teenager, that might be a useful lesson indeed.

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Where Marra is right is to highlight the pupils languishing in the middle. There is ample support for the enhanced chances of care experienced pupils and those from the most deprived backgrounds and less sympathy for teenagers in the least deprived communities whose parents have put them to the sorts of schools that sit at the top of league tables.

In the middle, though, are working class pupils from households where they are not living in poverty and the schools they go to give them the support they need to do well. Those young people aren't given the bells and whistles of the successful middle classes.

But they don't struggle in the way of some of their peers. They do, though, still need the opportunities afforded by widening access schemes yet fall between two stools.

Those who are affronted at the idea of university places going solely to those from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to argue that places should be allocated on merit yet that is synonymous with saying that the status quo should be protected.

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Not all As are of equal value and it is fair to give additional credit to pupils who have struggled with adversity. A false notion of merit has created the unequal system that now needs to be dismantled.

Yet a push for social mobility cannot be a tick box exercise of meeting quotas at university level. It needs to be accompanied by work that begins in early years education and follows a child through their academic life.

Widening access to university must also come with an acknowledgement that other post-school paths are of equal weighting. The middle class young person might be pushed to go to university because his parents expect it but may well be better suited to an apprenticeship or college course. The opposite may be true for the young person from a disadvantaged background but they aren't offered the choice.

Too much focus is now placed on the economic outcome of earning a degree, the effect it will have on a student's labour market prospects. Too little focus is on the value of a degree to personal development and non-monetary opportunities such as making friends across social strata, chances to travel, chances to pick up extra curricular passions.

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Universities, Marra points out, receive billions of pounds in public funding. "Taxpayers will rightly ask," he says, "Whether a system that excludes their children is a fair one."

Well, if they are genuinely concerned about the future of university education, they should have been asking that same question as it applied to all children, not merely their own darlings.

This may be an over-correction by Edinburgh University, it may be the inevitable result of the strictures of the current university funding model, but outrage rings hollow when it is only applied to middle class young people.