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Laying the Foundations for Fair Access: Annual Report 2017 from the Commissioner for Fair Access

Laying the Foundations for Fair Access: Annual Report 2017 from the Commissioner for Fair Access

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ISBN: 9781788515122

This is the first annual report from the Commissioner for Fair Access. It sketches out the wider context of access to higher education in Scotland and considers a number of important issues such as funding, admissions and entry standards and progression from college to university. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council and universities.

Executive Summary

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.