Professor Sir Peter Scott was appointed the first Commissioner for Fair Access in December 2016. Peter is a Professor of Higher Education Studies at University College London’s Institute of Education. He began his career as a journalist, originally at The Times and then as Editor of the Times Higher Education Supplement. Peter then moved into higher education as a Professor at the University of Leeds and subsequently Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Vice-Principal) responsible for external affairs, including access. Later he became Vice-Chancellor (Principal) of Kingston University in London. As a member of the board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England he chaired its widening participation and then its quality assurance learning and teaching committee.
The role of the Commissioner for Fair Access
The Commissioner was appointed by the Scottish Government to lead a system wide effort to deliver fair access in Scotland.
The Commissioner provides impartial, evidenced based policy advice to the Scottish Government and other organisations, working across the entire education system in Scotland to develop best practice, improve the evidence base and ultimately hold to account all those with a role to play in advancing fair access to higher education in Scotland.
The Commissioner is independent of the Scottish Government and holds a non-statutory role. He is not an ombudsman or regulator and is not able to take forward individual cases.
The functions of the Commissioner for Fair Access are to:
- lead cohesive and system wide efforts to drive fair access in Scotland; acting as an advocate for access for disadvantaged learners and holding to account those with a role to play in achieving equal access, including Ministers and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).
- coordinate and prioritise the development of a more substantial evidence base on the issues most pertinent to fair access, including the commissioning and publication of independent research and the development of a Framework for Fair Access.
- publish, annually, a report to Ministers outlining the Commissioner’s views on progress towards equal access in Scotland to inform development of effective policy at national, regional and institutional level.