Higher Education Minister firm on widening access agenda
Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead has praised the University of Glasgow for its efforts to attract more students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Mr Lochhead made the comments after meeting students who have benefited from the university’s widening participation programmes which aim to break down barriers for less affluent potential students.
A record number of students from Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas successfully gained a place at university this year according to latest UCAS figures.
Over the last two years there has been a 16% increase in the number of all age applicants from the 20% most deprived areas securing a place at university – an increase of around 690 to 5,140.
Mr Lochhead said:
“It is clear to see the University of Glasgow’s commitment to widening access and of all the ancient universities it continues to have the highest percentage of entrants from the most deprived communities. Speaking to the students today it was evident that programmes such as the university’s summer school have made a real difference and helped them to achieve their educational aspirations.
“Since 2007 the Scottish Government has provided free tuition to over half a million students in full-time higher education and we are firm in our ambition that every child, irrespective of socioeconomic background, should have an equal chance of accessing higher education. We have a well-established road map with key milestones and I expect every university to take action now to ensure that, by 2021, 10% of entrants to each university are from Scotland’s 20% most deprived backgrounds.
“While great progress has already been made we want to do more. This financial year we are investing £5.2 million to increase bursaries for full-time care-experienced students alongside £16 million in 2019/20 to expand and increase bursaries for students from the lowest income families to ensure they do not miss out on the opportunity of a world-class higher education.”
Principal of the University of Glasgow, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli said:
“We are deeply committed to widening access and to offering a world-class education to anyone who has talent and ambition, regardless of economic circumstance or social background – this doesn’t just benefit those students, but makes our University more diverse and reflective of the society we serve.
“We have implemented a number of measures to widen access to applicants from a non-traditional background, including a suite of pre-entry widening participation programmes for school-leavers and adult returners to education – like our Summer School, Top-Up, Reach and Access to a Career programmes. We also work annually with more than 20,000 pupils in more than 100 targeted secondary schools in the west of Scotland.
“These programmes are delivering real results and while we are very proud of the demonstrable progress we’ve made so far, we are wholly committed to working in partnership with the Scottish Government to do even more in this vitally important area.”