Universities Scotland today [Tuesday, 18 December] welcomed the creation of 1,700 extra undergraduate places at university as a significant boost to widening access.
The places, which have been created specifically to support widening access, have been created to encourage a wider diversity of applicant to university and will be available for entrants in autumn 2013.
The cost of funding these places, estimated at £10 million, has been met from within existing university budgets for academic year 2013/14. The funding has come from within universities main teaching grant and re-investment of the public funding saved as a result of the introduction of restof-UK fees.
Two different models of access place have been created, which are:
- 700 widening access places.
- 1,000 of articulation places for students progressing from college direct into university. These places will encourage both the formation of new and expansion of existing articulation routes from college into university where prior credit is recognised.
- A further 300 “skills for growth” places have been created which are focussed on subjects supporting the key industry sectors of energy and life sciences.
Professor Pete Downes, Convener of Universities Scotland and Principal of the University of Dundee said:
“The creation of 1,700 extra places focussed on widening access is great news for potential students and great news for universities.
“Widening access is a complex challenge without many easy answers. One of very few straightforward barriers to greater progress has been the fact that universities have had to do what they can to create wider opportunities within a fixed number of places, and at a time when demand from very well qualified applicants for a place at university far outstrips supply. The extra places, announced today, are a very welcome means of alleviating some of the pressure on places and should give bright applicants from less traditional backgrounds and routes of entry the opportunity to demonstrate their potential to gain from study at university.
“Every university in Scotland is committed to widening access throughout a variety of means. The money needed to fund these places has been found from within existing university budgets, which signals the priority the sector is giving to this issue. The 1,700 extra places adds to the wide range of actions and targets that universities have recently signed up to in a new set of outcome agreements, much of which are focussed on doing more to widening access and improve retention. Common amongst the agreements was the introduction of contextual admissions, increased articulation from college and a move to ensure that retention rates for students from less traditional backgrounds equal that of their more privileged peers.
“The students who take up these additional places will have to demonstrate their academic ability and potential to succeed at university, just like every other applicant. No-one gets an easy-pass. But these extra places should create opportunities for students who might otherwise have missed out. University has the potential to change lives and it’s a very positive thing that more applicants will get to take this opportunity next year.”
- Further details on the additional places will be published in the SFC’s indicative grant letter for universities which will be published on Wednesday, 19 December 2012.