Young Scots give their support to work to widen access

2018 is the Year of Young People and it is also a year which will see a really busy programme of work taken forward by universities to widen access. Late last year we set out 15 actions in Working to Widen Access that we believe will deliver a big step forward in widening access. 2018 will be a significant year for making progress on these actions including; every university working to set minimum entry requirements and the creation of a National Articulation Forum to increase full-credit articulation as a route into university.

We committed to deliver these actions with learners, not just for learners so we asked young people, aged 11-17, for their views on some of the big issues as part of Ipsos Mori’s Young People in Scotland survey.

Young people told us:

  • that they are clear about their plans for their future. 87% of 11-17 year olds know what they want to do after school.
  • 43% of young people said they planned to go to university. The results showed that young people living in the most affluent areas (SIMD80-100 zones) were significantly more likely than average to say they wanted to go to university – just over half (52%) of them gave this response, compared to just over a third (36%) of those in the most deprived areas.
  • Young people were asked for their view on widening access and what they thought needed to be done. Of those with a definite view, a large majority, 81.5%, said something should be done to help those from poorer background into higher education. 26% of all respondents didn’t know how they felt.
  • Young people were asked how they felt about contextualised admissions – the practice of adjusting grades to recognise the context in which those grades were achieved. Understandably, there was a large minority – 38% – who were undecided. They weren’t sure if they thought this was fair or unfair.  Those who did have a definite view were roughly evenly divided between thinking it was fair (31%) and thinking it was unfair (25%). Looking at the sub-group results, however, what is interesting, is a higher than average percentage of young people from SIMD20 areas – those who stand to benefit from this policy the most – were unsure how they felt about this. 46% of respondents from SIMD20 weren’t sure.


Commenting on the results, a spokesperson from Universities Scotland said :

“Universities are working on 15 different actions, over the next few years, that should deliver a big step forward in widening access. We’re doing this with learners, not just on their behalf, so it is important that we hear young people’s views on the big issues right from the start.

“Young people clearly support widening access to people from poorer backgrounds. Over 80 per cent of young people, with a definite view on this issue, feel that something should be done.

“A large minority of young people have told us they don’t know how they feel about contextualised admissions. This reinforces how complicated this issue is and how confusing it can be for the very people that we intend to benefit. We’re spending this year working on new, clear and consistent information about admissions and we will make sure that young people, as well as learners of all ages, have a role in how we do this. It will be really important to make sure this information reaches learners in every postcode area of Scotland in order to raise their understanding and confidence about how this works. ”