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Bold proposals to widen university access

Published: 14 Mar 2016 12:45

Final report by Commission on Widening Access published.

A 'Blueprint for Fairness' has been published today, setting out a range of actions aimed at ensuring a student's background is not a barrier to taking up a place at university.

The Commission on Widening Access has made 34 recommendations, including the following:

  • A series of targets should be set to ensure that, by 2030, students from the 20 per cent most deprived areas make up 20 per cent of Higher Education entrants
  • The creation of a Commissioner for Fair Access to drive the agenda across the country
  • New admissions thresholds for students from the most deprived backgrounds
  • Entitlements to the offer of a place and full bursary for students with care experience who meet admissions thresholds
  • A more collaborative approach to delivering access programmes by universities, colleges and schools.

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance joined members of the Commission to launch the report at the University of Glasgow. She said:

"While our actions to widen access have delivered significant improvements compared to the position in 2007-08, we know that there remains much more to do.

"That is why we formed the Commission on Widening Access to advise us on the steps necessary to achieve our ambition that a child born today, regardless of background, should have an equal chance of entering university. I agree absolutely with the Commission's assessment that Scotland has a social, moral and economic duty to achieve fair access.

"With that in mind, I can announce today that the Scottish Government will immediately accept the Commission's recommended targets. Achieving these will not be the sole responsibility of universities nor indeed just the education system – we will all have to work collectively to this end.

"Careful consideration is needed on the detail of the Commission's other recommendations and I will work closely with key stakeholders on how best to take this work forward. But agreeing to take forward these targets leaves no-one in any doubt that this Government is determined to make urgent progress on achieving our ambition of equal access.

"I am very grateful to Dame Ruth Silver and the Commissioners for the considerable time, effort and engagement they have put into producing this 'Blueprint for Fairness'. Their recommendations are bold and thoughtful and fit well with ongoing work around closing the attainment gap and developing the young workforce."

Notes to editors

The report can be found here.