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Veterans, ex-armed forces and their families

This page provides information, advice and guidance to veterans, ex-armed forces and their families on the support and funding options available for those who may wish to study at a Scottish college or university. It also outlines how colleges and universities can join the newly established HE:FE Veterans Champion’s Network.

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Responding to the Scottish Veterans Commissioner’s report, The Veterans Community – Employability, Skills and Learning, SFC established a Veterans Group, with members from colleges, universities, Scottish Government, SAAS, Veterans Scotland, Universities Scotland and College Development Network, to take forward specific recommendations. The most recent annual report from the Scottish Government was published in November 2022.

The group aimed to establish an HE:FE Veterans Champions’ Network to provide a single point of contact in each of Scotland’s colleges and universities for veterans, ex-armed forces and their families. Champions would provide that first point of contact for members of the ex-service community and their families when  applying for, or undertaking, further and higher education in Scotland.

Veterans & Armed Forces Champions

The ADVANCE Network (previously known as the HE:FE Veterans Champion’s Network) was launched at the January 2019 Gathering held at Glasgow Caledonian University. The network was renamed in 2022 to reflect the ongoing work and support the network provides. This web page provides details on:

  • Vision of the ADVANCE Network.
  • Armed Forces Covenant.
  • Role of the VAFC.
  • VAFC Team Guide.


The vision is for each university and college in Scotland to have a dedicated Veterans & Armed Forces Champion (VAFC) within their institution, responsible for establishing and leading a small team of knowledgeable individuals (familiar with the Armed Forces community). There are no definitive numbers, other than a minimum of two; it is for the institution to decide in light of their resources, but as a guide please refer to the VAFC team guide.

Armed Forces Covenant (AFC)

Infantry skills mapped to Scottish qualifications frameworkThe purpose is clear and straightforward. Each University and College is encouraged to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant. This demonstrates the institutions' commitment to ensuring those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly. If each university and college in Scotland signs the Covenant this is presenting a clear education sector message to the Armed Forces community that the sector cares. The sector is not creating advantage but removing disadvantage. (Selection of the VAFC is usually part of this process, although there are examples of the AFC being signed ahead of VAFC appointment).

Role of the VAFC


  • Can be any member of staff who demonstrates a passion for supporting the Veterans and Armed Forces community. The VAFC should have a desire to ensure the institution is working towards fulfilling the pledges they agreed to when signing the Armed Forces Covenant.
  • Will be the main point of contact for the institution and be responsible for ensuring questions/enquiries are dealt with, either directly or redirected to the most relevant team and/or directed to University staff such as Programme Leads/Directors. (The VAFC should always enter into initial dialogue with the enquirer before redirection).
  • Will be responsible for:
    • Engagement across the Community. This can be via the military centres local to the institution; through the 3rd sector organisations; local government; partner colleges; RFCA; within your institution; and others.
    • Establishing promotion of the institutions work, such as via a micro website within the institution’s web page. This will include regular liaison with the stakeholders within the institution.
    • Preparation and dissemination of guidance to existing and new staff.
    • Identifying Veterans, Reservists, Cadet Force Adult Volunteers, within both the staff and student body.

The above are what might be considered as the primary roles. It is likely that other roles will develop organically according to the need of the Community and your institution.

VAFC team guide

Ideally the team in each institution will include a representative from each of the following areas, (but not exclusively limited to these groups):

  • Student Recruitment - be familiar with the Armed Forces community and transition process from military to civilian life and the qualification learning pathway (SCQF model). Willing to have 1:1 meeting with potential student’s from the armed forces community to explore areas of prior learning and experience.
  • Widening Participation - be familiar with the Armed Forces community and transition process from military to civilian life and the qualification learning pathway (SCQF model). Willing to have 1:1 meeting with potential student’s from the armed forces community to explore areas of prior learning and experience.
  • HR - be familiar with the Armed Forces community and transition process from military to civilian life and willing to have 1:1 meeting with potential candidate from the armed forces community to explore areas of prior learning and experience and relevance for the jobs available.
  • Community Engagement – be familiar with the Armed Forces community and open to exploring areas of possible collaboration.

Role of the ADVANCE Network

ADVANCE is intended to be a supporting network. You all are/will be members. Due to the extensive knowledge and practice in the field, this will be led by the VAFCs from GCU and ENU namely:

Please use both contacts as points of reference for any queries.

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership qualification mapping project

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) received additional funding from SFC to manage and lead a project on mapping learning pathways and accrediting prior learning for service leavers and veterans.

This work provided support on recognition for prior learning and articulation through mapping existing qualifications against the SCQF, as well as developing advice and guidance materials designed specifically for the veterans and ex-service community.

SCQFP has a dedicated page on support for Veterans, which includes a leaflet on how infantry qualifications map onto the SCQF.

Scottish Military Skills and Qualifications Discovery Tool

This unique tool supports service personnel, leavers and veterans in their career pathways beyond military service. Through recognising and translating skills, experience and qualifications gained during service into language more easily understood by learning institutions and employers outside the armed forces, this tool will support ex-military personnel to gain employment or move into further learning. It also allows serving personnel to get a better understanding of the skills and qualifications they are gaining in order to plan their careers both inside and outside the armed forces.

The SCQF Partnership, working together with the Ministry of Defence and Skills Development Scotland, and funded by the Scottish Government and SFC, have developed this tool within Skills Development Scotland’s My World of Work website. It forms part of a suite of SCQF Partnership projects to promote and extend recognition of prior learning and skills across our education and employment landscape.

Further information and resources

Further information and resources for veterans, ex-armed forces and their families are available.