The first annual report of the Commissioner for Fair Access is divided into three main parts.
Chapter 1 sketches out the wider context - the heritage of Scotland’s universities and the present
shape of higher education; the distinctive approach to access that has flowed from this heritage, pattern of institutions and funding arrangements; the major policy milestones; and, crucially, the progress that has been made.
Chapters 2-7 focus on a number of issues, many of which are familiar. They include the funding of
higher education and (for Scottish students) the absence of fees, admissions and entry standards,
progression from college to university (and also the interface between schools and higher
education), outreach and bridging programmes and the use of targets (and the best measures to
use to identify access students).
The third part comprises a number of recommendations. Some are specific and concrete,
and addressed to the Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council and colleges and
universities. Other recommendations are more general but no less important - for example, the
suggestions that universities should see fair access as one element in a wider ‘social covenant’
and that, just as new admissions policies are raising new questions about how entry standards are
defined, so there needs to be a grown-up debate about how we define ‘success’. The report ends
with a general conclusion on the challenges of achieving fair access in Scotland.