Scotland’s position on higher education should be a small poster for derailed public policy. In short, the result is the opposite of what the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) says.

Here’s the problem. Scotland offers its residents a free higher education at any of the country’s universities. This includes the University of St Andrews, which is now number one in the entire UK. This means that it ranks higher than Oxford or Cambridge. (Fair disclosure: I graduated from St. Andrews.)

Ostensibly, Scottish government policy must align well with one of the other SNP’s goals: reducing income inequality. “Fighting inequality is essential not only to creating a more equitable society but also to the long-term prosperity of our economy,” the SNP website says.

The SNP’s goals are almost certainly valid. However, this does not mean that they work.

At the heart of the matter is the fact that prospective university students residing in Scotland are likely to be at an immediate disadvantage.

First, the Scottish government pays Scottish universities less than £2,000 $2,120 a year in fees for Scottish students to attend. This is significantly less than the £9,250 paid by students from elsewhere in the UK

Perhaps this is why only 28% of students at St Andrews are from Scotland. How is that? The Scottish government, like any other, has a limited amount of money to pay for students, and so there are a limited number of spaces available at this much discounted rate, whether you like it or not.

Or in other words, it may be difficult to get into St Andrews if you are Scottish. This means that it is difficult to get into the best university in Britain if you are Scottish.

It gets worse.

If you don't go to a paid private school, your chances are greatly reduced. Less than one in twenty (3.9%) of Scottish schoolchildren attend private schools. However, 36.9% of St Andrews students went to paid schools.

In other words, Scottish private school students have more than nine times the chance of attending St Andrews than those who attended public schools. These private schools cost up to £40,000 per year.

In other words, if you live in Scotland and your parents are competent enough to get a private education, you are more likely to get four years of free government support at Scotland's oldest and most prestigious university, than the University of Hue. Pollo.

Given that major employers in Scotland favor St Andrews over other universities, it is difficult to see how the segregation of private and public schools does not add to rather than reduce income inequality.