Monday 14-03-2016 - 12:43
NUS Scotland has welcomed the publication of the final report from the Commission on Widening Access (CoWA), which outlines targets and actions to create fairer access to higher education.
The Commission was announced by the First Minister in 2014, as part of the programme for government, to advise Scottish Ministers on how to meet the ambition that all young people, from all backgrounds, should have an equal chance of attending university. The Commission is made up of experts in widening access and education from across Scotland, including NUS Scotland president, Vonnie Sandlan.
Key recommendations from the commission include:
• The establishment of a Commissioner for Fair Access, to ensure the necessary strategic leadership, coordination, and strategic delivery of fair access in Scotland.
• The development of a Scottish Framework for Fair Access, to ensure a clear framework of what works in fair access, and how students can best be supported at each stage of education.
• A clear and ambitious target to ensure that, by 2030, our universities are reflective of the communities they serve, with equal representation of students from our most deprived communities.
• A clear set of recommendations for how universities, colleges, and others can work together, complementing and supporting students at each stage of their education.
• Recommendations to make admissions fairer, setting a minimum threshold that judges students on their potential to succeed.
Commenting on the report, Vonnie Sandlan, President of NUS Scotland and member of the CoWA, said:
“NUS Scotland is delighted to see the publication of the Commission’s final report. It’s a bold and progressive challenge to all of us who want to see a fairer Scotland, where access to education is never determined by background or circumstance, only by your potential. NUS Scotland and students have been at the forefront of pushing for fairer access, and it’s positive to see so many of our priorities and recommendations make it into the final report.
“By setting ambitious targets, backed up by clear recommendations, this report ensures that we know what needs to be done, and who needs to take action. We know that universities can’t do it all on fair access, but they can do more. It’s encouraging to see the report call for greater partnership between universities, schools, colleges, and others to improve the opportunities and outcomes for those from our most disadvantaged communities. We know that education is a transformative experience, for individuals, communities, and Scotland as a whole, and the responsibility to ensure that it’s in reach for every child in Scotland is incumbent on us all. The aims of the report may be challenging, but they’re also achievable, and they must be achieved.
“Scotland now has a clear plan to create a fairer education system, and we must ensure that this report is only the first step in that process. We need to see these strong recommendations met with strong actions. We want to see politicians, and all those who want to realise our ambitions for a truly accessible, fairer education system, set out how they’ll respond to these recommendations, and work together to implement them.
“Equally, one area the report touches on is financial support, but the reform we know our college and university students need can’t wait. If we’re to truly realise our ambitions for fair access it’s vital that we ensure that the support is in place to not just get more students into education, but supports them to stay there and succeed. Going into the Scottish Parliament elections, we’re calling for politicians from all parties to outline how they’ll fix the problems that exist in the support on offer, and what they’ll do to ensure students receive the support they need.”