New framework to help those from poorer areas access university

An initiative to boost the number of youngsters from deprived communities in Scotland’s universities should provide a “step change in knowledge” on how to achieve this.

The new Framerwork for Fair Access has been hailed as a “significant milestone” towards the ambition of ensuring those from poorer areas have the same chance of going to university as students from more affluent parts of Scotland.

A key part of it is a new website, to provide evidence on what can be done to increase access.

In addition a new forum, called Scotland’s Community of Access and Participation Practitioners (SCAPP), has been set up to share and develop best practice on this.

The framework has been set up after being recommended by the Commission on Widening Access

The latest figures show 15.6% of full time undergraduate students starting university come from 20% of the most deprived backgrounds.

The Scottish Government wants to see 20% of new entrants to higher education coming from these areas by 2030 – with an interim target of 16% by 2021 also having been set.

Commissioner for Fair Access, Professor Sir Peter Scott, said: “The framework is designed to produce a step-change in our knowledge about which fair access activities work best.

“It is also designed to act as a focus, even a rallying point, for grass-roots access and participation practitioners across Scotland.”

The new website should “support a dynamic process of continuous improvement in access practice and research in Scotland,” he added.

Higher education minister Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland is ahead of the curve in delivering equality of access, with 15.6% of entrants to Scottish universities now coming from the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland – just 0.4% short of our goal for 2021. However, we can do more.

“Sharing learning on how best to support disadvantaged learners to realise their potential is key to this.

“I am delighted to see the education sector in Scotland come together to bring to life one of the key recommendations made by the Commission on Widening Access in the form of the framework.”

Universities Scotland director Alastair Sim said: “The framework is one of many exciting developments in the access landscape in Scotland already this year, which includes bold action from universities to set minimum entry requirements for under-represented students starting degrees in 2021.”