Following the publication of the Scottish Funding Council’s indicative allocations for 2016/17, we were asked for comment on 1 March regarding the status of funding for additional places for widening access at Scotland’s universities.
A Universities Scotland spokesperson said:
“The lack of funding for ring-fenced widening access places next year does not detract from universities’ commitment to widen access. The additional places are a good idea because they help reduce some of the competition for university places where demand far exceeds supply. If they are gone universities will be faced with more difficult decisions between very able applicants from very different backgrounds. The extra places are one part of a much bigger range of initiatives that universities run to widen access including working with schools and communities to raise aspiration and attainment.
“We know that widening access remains an important priority to the Scottish Government, as it does to universities, and we expect a report from the Commission on widening access later this month. It would be very helpful if we could have a conversation with Government and the Funding Council about widening access to understand this decision in that wider context.”
- The following is taken from the Scottish Funding Council’s Outcome Agreement funding for universities – indicative allocations for 2016/17 published on 19 February 2016:
14. SFC remains committed to the principles of widening access and to streamlining the learner journey by encouraging greater articulation routes between colleges and universities. While we are not funding the fourth tranche of additional places, we will continue to fund additional places at the level that had been reached last year. That means that universities will continue to receive the majority of their additional places as we intend to continue the tranches of funding we have previously awarded, subject to universities continuing to make effective use of these places to widen access. We expect that universities will use these places and their core resource to continue to make progress in widening access and in providing articulation routes between colleges and universities in AY 2016-17 as part of their outcome agreements.
15. We will issue further guidance on the widening access and articulation schemes in advance of the final outcome agreement funding allocations, and our expectations with regards to these schemes should be agreed between individual universities and their outcome agreement managers. In the context of the upcoming final report of the Commission for Widening Access and the stated strong support from the sector for widening access, we expect that universities will continue to set aspirational targets in this area.