Response to Ministerial Statement on Widening Access

In response to the Ministerial Statement on Widening Access in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 6 March 2018, Alastair Sim, the Director of Universities Scotland said:

Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions, the length and breadth of Scotland, large and specialist, are committed to widening access.

Today’s statement from the Minister reiterated a lot of the good work our members are undertaking with record numbers of people from deprived backgrounds attending university. We agree there are no silver bullets or short cuts to achieving widening access. It will take hard work across the whole of education to achieve equality in attainment, and sustained effort by universities to make student recruitment as fair as possible and to enable learners from every background to succeed. Universities have a detailed and ambitious plan for our contribution.

Scotland faces a good opportunity to retain, for Scottish students, the existing university places which are currently filled on merit by students from the EU, if demand from EU students drops following Britain’s exit from the EU. That option has the support of universities and of the Fair Access Commissioner. There are no shortcuts to our shared goals on access but there is a real opportunity to reach the ambitious widening access targets for 2030 without reducing opportunities for other well-qualified learners.