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Record year for widening access to Scottish universities

More students from most deprived areas accessing higher education

17 Jan 2019

New figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) show that in 2017/18 the proportion of students from the most deprived areas entering Scottish universities was the highest it’s ever been.

HESA’s Higher Education Student Statistics 2017/18 publication shows 15.6% entrants were from the 20% most deprived postcode areas (SIMD20). The result is just 0.4 percentage points off the 2021 target set following the 2016 Commission on Widening Access.

Figures also show the number of Scottish domiciled students attending Scottish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) increased by 2.1% in 2017/18, and the number of entrants increased by 3.2%.

Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science Richard Lochhead said: “These statistics highlight the good progress being made on widening access to higher education. I'm pleased to see more Scots going to university here and a record increase in entrants from our most deprived areas.

“Combined with recent UCAS statistics, this shows demonstrable progress towards giving every young person in Scotland an equal chance of success, no matter their background or circumstance.

"It is also great to see a record number of enrolments and an increased number of qualifications achieved in 2017/18. All of this speaks to the level of excellence found across our higher education institutions.”

SFC Chief Executive Karen Watt said: “This is a great result for our young people, our future economic prosperity and the sort of society we want to build; and it’s a great result for our universities who are working with us to widen access to higher education in Scotland.

“While there is still more to do, good progress is being made to ensure children growing up in our most deprived communities have the same opportunity to go to university as anybody else.”