SFC news published since 2018. See SFC archived content for earlier news articles.

Figures published by the Higher Education Statistic Authority (HESA) this week confirm Scottish universities have met a landmark target for widening access two years early.

In its 2016 report, A Blueprint for Fairness Scotland’s Commission on Widening Access called for at least 16 percent of people starting a full-time undergraduate degree course by 2021 to come from the country’s most deprived backgrounds. The Commission saw this as a key milestone on the road to creating equality of access to higher education.

According to the new figures, the proportion of Scottish-domiciled full-time first degree entrants from the 20 percent most deprived areas grew from 15.9 percent in 2018-19 to 16.4 percent in 2019-20. The figures also show an overall 2.8 percent increase of more than 7,000 students enrolled on higher education courses at colleges and universities in Scotland.

Speaking about the significance of the new figures, Karen Watt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“Meeting this milestone early is a fantastic achievement. More people in our most disadvantaged communities are getting the same opportunity to access higher education as anybody else. This matters for fairness, improving life chances, and making the most of everyone’s talents for our economic prosperity. Colleges and universities are committed to widening access to higher education and we will continue to support them to ensure we build on this success.”

The full report is now available on the HESA website.