Universities Scotland welcomed Mr Russell’s announcement this afternoon on aspects of his post-16 reform agenda.
Responding to the statement Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said:
“We share the fundamental belief that the learner should be the focus of and reason for any and all necessary change in Scotland’s post-16 education. Universities also share the Scottish Government’s broad ambitions to do more to widen access to learners of all backgrounds, to see more collaboration between all parts of the system and that the journey through education should be smooth and seamless for learners.
“We have been keen to work with Government to translate these ambitions into practical policies that will deliver results and produce a greater range of options for learners. It’s clear that the Government has taken consultation responses on board and wants to work with universities as partners going ahead. We very much welcome this collaborative approach going ahead.”
In regards to widening access, the Cabinet Secretary’s statement announced plans to move toward legislation to support access agreements currently being developed between the SFC and universities. Commenting on this proposal, Alastair Sim, said:
“Widening access to university is a complex and long-term challenge as the main factor is the need to raise attainment much earlier in a young person’s education. However, universities are committed to playing their role in this to the fullest. Universities will engage closely with the Funding Council to ensure that the right action is being taken to promote wide access.”
Today’s announcement also referred to the establishment of a working group with Universities Scotland, the SFC and business to work together to develop proposals on how best to increase knowledge exchange between universities and business, helping to driving Scotland’s economic growth. Commenting on this announcement, Alastair Sim said:
“We are very supportive of the drive to increase interactions between universities and business as part of universities’ significant economic contribution to Scotland. This builds on universities’ existing success in making knowledge exchange with business a core activity. Scotland’s universities are ahead of the game on knowledge transfer with many innovative ideas to simplify access already in place but we are ambitious to stay ahead. We’re very happy to sit down with business and the SFC, in the shape of a working group as announced today, to give careful consideration to how this can best be achieved.”
Commenting on plans for financial support for students, Alastair Sim said:
“Universities welcome today’s announcements on student support, particularly plans to offer more for part-time learners and a minimum income for full-time students.”