Scotland’s ancient universities loosen their grips on nation’s political class (From HeraldScotland)

They are the secret losers of last month’s general election: Scotland‘s ancient universities.

For some years the country’s four oldest varsities have dominated the backgrounds of politicians at both Westminster and Holyrood.

More than class, more than old school tie, the single thing MPs and MSPs were likely to have in common was attending Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen or St Andrews.

A new analysis of the class of 2017 – the 59 men and women elected in June’s Westminster elections – shows this is not quite as true as it once was.

Some 24 MPs spent at least some of their youth at one of the big four, compared with 33 just two years earlier.

Even adding Dundee, which as a former St Andrews college is entitled to award MA or MSc degrees to graduates, does not give the ancients a majority of seats.

This compares starkly with Holyrood where a single ancient Scottish university, Glasgow, dominates the benches proportionately more than England’s high prestige institutions of Oxford and Cambridge.

Experts are reluctant to equate Glasgow or Edinburgh to Oxbridge because the Scottish universities are less likely than their English equivalents to recruit students from public or private schools rather than state ones.

Professor Paul Cairney of Stirling University – which educated four MPs elected last month – has long studied the backgrounds of politicians.

He said: “These figures help confirm that there is no direct equivalent in Scotland to the historic recruitment of so many MPs, and cabinet members in particular, from Oxford and Cambridge.

“For a while, it looked like the closest equivalent was Glasgow, but there is not as clear a long term trend.

“Still, far more MPs have been to University, and the ‘ancient’ Universities, than the general population.

“It perhaps reflects the fact that Universities give students early chances to discuss active politics and the skills to be successful in politics.

“I taught two MPs…

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