Universities Scotland responds to Commissioner for Fair Access’s report on postgraduate access

Responding to the Commissioner for Fair Access’s latest discussion paper, Access to Postgraduate Study: Representation and Destinations, Universities Scotland welcomes a conversation about access to postgraduate level study and supports collaborative thinking on improving this.

Commenting on the report, Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:

“Sir Peter said he wanted a serious conversation about widening access to postgraduate education and it’s a discussion that the sector welcomes. Postgraduate study is a crucial part of university life and should be open to all those who wish to succeed at that level, regardless of their background or circumstances.

“As that work progresses, it’s important that the Scottish Government accelerates its work to introduce a better indicator than SIMD to identify mature students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Postgraduate students could be years, if not decades, removed from living in the neighbourhood they were in when they first entered higher education. If we want to make Scotland a fairer place to study we have to ensure that what we are measuring reflects the diverse circumstances of disadvantage in Scottish society.

 We know that that students from widening access backgrounds use many of the support services offered by universities that are paid for by the teaching grant that allow them to flourish at undergraduate level and hopefully onwards at postgraduate study. These are funded from a teaching grant that has been reduced by £700 per student in real terms since 2014. We need the Scottish Government to turn this around in the forthcoming Scottish Budget.”