Universities plan for significant step forward in widening access

The second round of university outcome agreements for academic year 2013/14 are published today [Tuesday, 11 June] with widening access made a central focus.

Amongst the many new measures put into action, universities* are working to recruit to 727 additional places that have been ring-fenced for students that live in Scotland’s most deprived areas, known as SIMD40. The additional SIMD40 places are set to deliver a significant step forward in the goal of widening access with universities aspiring to deliver as much as a 15 per cent increase in the number of Scottish entrants from the most deprived neighbourhoods in the autumn.

The outcome agreements include detailed widening access and retention goals, specific to each university, which institutions will work to deliver over the coming years. A summary of all 19 outcome agreements, Delivering for Scotland 2013/14, has been published by Universities Scotland which can be found at the link below.

In addition to the ring-fenced places for students from SIMD40 postcode areas, other actions to widen access announced by universities in this year’s agreements include:

  • Recruiting to fill an extra 1,020 places reserved for students that articulate from college into year two or three of an undergraduate degree.
  • Commitments from universities across the sector to partner with colleges to allow students to articulate direct into the second or third year of university.
  • Every university is explicitly committed to diversifying the student population with regard to underrepresented groups and students with protected characteristics.

Speaking about the publication of the second round of outcome agreements, Professor Pete Downes, Convener of Universities Scotland said:


“The sector is committed to a step change in the opportunities it offers to learners. The outcome agreements process offers a means for 19 very different universities to agree and demonstrate the contribution they will make to widening access and to improved retention.”


Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:


“Universities are passionate and innovative in their commitment to widening access. They have all agreed clear goals to work towards and in the second round of outcome agreements we can see the scale of difference this will make. Next year’s additional places, ring-fenced for access and for articulation from college, will help to accelerate the pace of change and we hope to see as much as a 15 per cent increase in entrants from Scotland’s most deprived areas.”


This is the second annual round of outcome agreements, negotiated between universities and the Scottish Funding Council. Actions taken in last year’s agreements are already starting to generate results for individual students. In Delivering for Scotland, students from six different institutions offer their views on new widening access and articulation initiatives that helped them to get a place at university.

In addition to widening access and retention, the outcome agreements cover universities’ performance in research excellence, collaboration with business and the employability of graduates.



* universities in this context should be understood to mean Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions.

  • Universities Scotland’s summary of the second round of outcome agreements can be found here.
  • Figures from the SFC show that there were 4,676 entrants from SIMD40 areas in 2011/12. If all 727 SIMD40 places are filled by autumn 2013/14 this would increase the number of SIMD40 entrants to 5,376 which would be a 15 per cent increase in entrants between 2011/12 and 2013/14. Data for 2011/12 had to be used in this calculation as data for 2012/13 is not yet available.