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Progress has been made, but there's more to do on widening access

Thursday 12-11-2015 - 14:49

As the Commission on Widening Access interim report is published, Commission member and NUS Scotland President Vonnie Sandlan comments on the need for further progress to ensure more students can access education. 

 

For some years now, NUS Scotland has been at the forefront of calling for action on access to education. In 2012, our "Unlocking Scotland's Potential" report imagined a higher education system based on ability to learn rather than socioeconomic background, where you came from, or any other factors. In the years following this report, we have continued to pursue the government for action.

There has been some progress made. We've seen outcome agreements created & implemented, putting a focus on widening access moving beyond your postcode. We've seen universities reaching out to potential students from deprived backgrounds. In more recent years we've also seen the introduction of additional places reserved for students from targeted groups - and it's working, albeit slowly. It’s time to bring together the good work going on across the country and intensify our efforts for change.

On November 26th 2014, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stated: "I want us to determine now that a child born today in one of our most deprived communities will, by the time he or she leaves school, have the same chance of going to university as a child born in one of our least deprived communities." It's an ambition which led to the creation of the Commission on Widening Access, which I am proud to be a member of.

Our fictional child is now just two weeks away from celebrating their first birthday, and today the Commission publishes the interim report marking the halfway point in our work. I hope you will read it, consider the questions and challenge yourselves and your institutions, to ensure that education is accessible for all.We know that education is transformative, for individuals and for their communities.

We know that education changes the life circumstances of individual people and makes society more progressive, and fair. The responsibility to ensure that education is available for all, at the right level and at the right time, is incumbent on us all.

The full interim report of the Commission for Widening Access can be found here: http://www.commissiononwideningaccess.co.uk/#!publications/ca60

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