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Higher Education - Now everyone gets to participate

Report promotes universities' efforts to widen access

Report promotes universities' efforts to widen access

Universities Scotland has for the first time set out all the measures that higher education institutions are taking to widen access to the poor and other under-represented groups.

Access All Areas, published this week, provides a wide range of case studies from institutions across the country, ranging from engagement projects with primary schools to articulation from colleges and ways in which universities engage with parents and teachers.

Alastair Sim, director of the higher education body, said: "While there is a lot being done across the higher education sector, it occurred to us that this hasn't previously been visible to people outside ... There was nowhere to find out what was happening all in one place."

He added: "Progress is likely to continue to be gradual as it requires a holistic effort from the early years onwards, but universities will continue to do all they can to deliver change."

The report covers access initiatives for young children, outreach and progression work, as well as collaborative initiatives with secondary schools, programmes providing additional support for the senior phase and work carried out to engage parents and teachers.

Politicians and student representatives have long urged universities to "do more" to ensure access to university for applicants from less well-off backgrounds. The ancient universities, in particular, have a relatively poor record in this area.

As part of the outcome agreements between each institution and the Scottish Funding Council, universities are given widening access targets to meet in return for their funding.

"The sector is deeply committed to widening access and is involved in a host of programmes and initiatives to create opportunities for people of all ages and stages to get into higher education," Mr Sim said.

See News Focus, pages 16-18.

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