Commission: Poorer students should be accepted to Scots universities on lower grades

15/03/2016
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Government organised report sets target for 20 per cent of students to come from most deprived backgrounds

A COMMISSION set up by the Scottish Government has found that Scottish universities should widen access to higher education by lowering the threshold of grades needed by poorer university applicants.

The Commission on Widening Access, established by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year, found that university entrants from poorer background need only meet the minimum entry requirement for a university course, and that a two tier system of university entrance, catering for poorer hopefuls, should be in place by 2019.

“Agreeing to take these forward leaves no-one in any doubt that this government is determined to make urgent progress on achieving our ambition of equal access.” Angela Constance

Quoted in the Telegraph, the commission finding said: “Our proposal is for the formal introduction of separate entry requirements for the most disadvantaged learners for degree programmes right across the university sector.”

“Rather than the market rate, these new access thresholds should be based on the minimum academic standard judged necessary to successfully complete a specific degree programme.”

The commission made 34 recommendations in all, including a target to have students from the poorest 20 per cent of postcodes make up 20 per cent of the national university student body by 2030

Quoted in the Evening Times, Education minster Angela Constance said the Scottish government accepted this target.

She said: “Agreeing to take these forward leaves no-one in any doubt that this government is determined to make urgent progress on achieving our ambition of equal access.”

The commission also called for children in care to receive automatic university places if they met the new minimum requirements. It recommended the creation of a new commissioner for fair access to drive the implementation of the new measures for widening access across Scotland.

The commission did not focus on the barrier of high rent costs, one of the major factors in putting the financial burden of further education beyond the reach of those with the least financial support.

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Picture courtesy of Ianan