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Today’s lesson comes from the Book of Unintended Consequences, one of the greatest of all political texts.

When Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP promised to abolish tuition fees for Scottish-domiciled undergraduates at Scottish universities, they had no intention, and not even any idea, this would one day make it all but impossible for most Scottish pupils to gain admission to courses at, for example, Edinburgh University. But this is precisely what has happened.

Last summer, The Times revealed that every place allotted to Scottish applicants wishing to study law at Edinburgh University — a flagship course at one of the country’s leading universities — was given to students applying from deprived areas or schools deemed disadvantaged.

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