University commitment to review admissions to improve access

Today (6th September) The Herald reported on universities’ commitment to review their admissions systems, one of the three work streams Universities Scotland is taking forward as part of our response to the Commission on Widening Access.

Speaking to the Herald, Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:

“Universities are saying they will do more to recognise that some kids haven’t had the same opportunities or the same support from knowledgeable parents and schools as their peers. Those are the pupils whose grades might be harder won, which shows more commitment to learning and the right attitude once at university. Universities are now experienced at identifying potential, amongst thousands of applicants, as well as proven ability. What’s more, there is a growing body of evidence that shows that students with adjusted offers, a grade or two lower, can do just as well at university if not better than their peers. This is working in some of the most competitive universities in Scotland. To get that kind of successful outcome, for the student and the university, adjusted offers have to be done well. The university needs to make a judgement on a case by case basis that recognises that each applicant is an individual. It cannot be a well-meaning tick-box exercise.”

“Universities have said they were committed to taking a bolder approach to widen access. They will start this off by reviewing their admissions requirements, taking account of best practice elsewhere and the hard evidence that this can work. It will always be a challenge to get into university and more difficult to get into some universities than others but every university in Scotland is committed to reviewing their systems, to considering how and when adjusted offers will work for them and how universities can do more to draw out and reward the potential in applicants so we make faster progress on access.”

Read: All Scottish universities to drop entry grades for disadvantaged students

Read about all three of our work streams to widen access in Futures not Backgrounds