Equality and fairness at heart of college and university agenda
Further and Higher Education Minister, Shirley-Anne Somerville, has put equality and fairness at the heart of her guidance to universities and colleges for 2018-19.
Setting out her expectations for the sector in the letter of guidance to the Scottish Funding Council, published today, the Minister said that continued progress in implementing the recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access is vital.
The letter sets out the government’s expectations and priorities for its investment of £1.8 billion in the further and higher education sectors in 2018-19.
In particular, the letter highlighted the leadership role expected of the Scottish Funding Council to drive forward improvements which will contribute to equality and fairness in the further and higher education system.
This includes taking forward the Equally Safe initiative to address violence against women and girls on campus, as well as working with student’s organisations to ensure universities and colleges have support services in place that meet the needs of students with mental health difficulties.
Institutions will be expected to develop a strategy for mental health and work with NUS Scotland and their local student association to develop a Student Mental Health Agreement.
Speaking as the letter of guidance was published, Ms Somerville said:
“Education remains this Government’s defining mission and the Scottish Funding Council has a crucial role to play in supporting our drive to achieve educational excellence, equity and economic growth.
“As this letter makes clear, widening access to university for people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds remains our key priority and I am clear that progress must continue at pace.
“It with this in mind that I am putting equality and fairness at the heart of this year’s guidance to the sector.
“I am determined that we embrace the spirit of the equality agenda, as well as meet expectations on access, and I amclear about the role SFC must play to drive forward improvements in key areas such as student safety and well-being, gender equality and the living wage.
“We know that universities and colleges have a key role to play in achieving our ambitions and that is why we have demonstrated our commitment by increasing their budget.
“Our expectation is to see demonstrable progress in delivering a further and higher education system that is more equal, accessible and nurturing to all of our students, no matter their background or personal circumstances.”
Mike Cantlay, Chair of the Scottish Funding Council, said:
“We welcome this latest guidance from the Minister and will continue to ensure excellence and equity in Scotland’s colleges and universities. We share the Minister’s ambition for equality and fairness and will work with colleges, universities and our partners to drive forward progress in all areas of equal access.”
View the Scottish Government’s Letter of Guidance 2018-19 to the Scottish Funding Council online.