Students from poor backgrounds are more likely to get into debt and take nongraduate jobs than their middle-class counterparts, according to research published today.
A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that university leavers from disadvantaged areas of western Scotland often felt compelled to take the first job that came along.
Scottish students do not have to pay tuition fees but the report, from academics at Glasgow University, found the costs of studying for a degree hit the poorest hardest.
A significant minority thought they were being held back because of their accent or where they lived.
The study surveyed 250 students from some of the poorest areas of the country, concluding that they made slow progress in the job market.
One year after leaving university, just four out of ten had found graduate-level work.
Fred Cartmel, who worked on the report, said graduates from poorer backgrounds often suffered because they had built up a "heavier level of debts" than other students.
"But that does not negate the benefits of giving young people greater access to higher education," he said.
"The lesson for policy makers is that their support for wider access needs to be matched with fairer funding arrangements."
Prof Andy Furlong, coauthor of the study, said these students often supported themselves through college by working "long hours away from their studies.
"The progress they were making towards obtaining graduate-level jobs was slow, but it is important to emphasise that progress was being made.
"We cannot accurately assess how many of those we interviewed will move into secure graduate careers, but our best guess is that it will eventually be more than half."