Professor John McKendrick was appointed Commissioner for Fair Access in January 2023.
Responsibilities and functions
The Commissioner is independent of government and responsible for leading a system wide effort to deliver fair access in Scotland, including the development of a framework for fair access.
He provides impartial policy advice to the Scottish Government and other organisations and works across the entire education system to:
- develop best practice
- improve the evidence base
- hold to account all those with a role in advancing fair access to higher education
The Commissioner 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)
- co-ordinate 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 an annual 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
- annual report 2021: higher education - re-committing to Fair Access - a plan for recovery: annual report 2021
- coronavirus (COVID-19): impact on fair access to higher education - interim report
- annual report 2020: Fair Access to Higher Education: progress and challenges
- Access to postgraduate study: representation and destinations: discussion paper
- annual report 2019: Building on Progress Towards Fair Access
- disabled students at university: discussion paper
- statement on HESA entrant statistics 2017-2018
- Commissioner for Fair Access discussion paper: retention, outcomes and destinations
- Commissioner for Fair Access: annual report 2017
- league tables: discussion paper: November 2017
- contextual higher education admissions: discussion paper: June 2017
- university and college admissions, offers and acceptances: discussion paper: June 2017
Speeches and presentations
- Scottish Parliament cross party group on colleges and universities: June 2019
- Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework conference: February 2018
- Leadership Foundation for Higher Education: February 2018
- Forum for Access and Continuing Education: June 2017
- Scottish Funding Council's Fair Access Conference: June 2017
- Quality Assurance Agency Scotland Conference: June 2017
- UCAS Scottish Standing Group: May 2017
- Open University Scotland widening access seminar: May 2017
John is Professor of Social Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University, where he co-directs the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit. He arrived at the university twenty-five years ago, having spent the first four years of his career at the University of Manchester. His work at the university was interrupted with two years on secondment to the University of Edinburgh (2002-2003 at the Centre for Families and Relationships).
His route to higher education was through Carmyle Primary School (Glasgow), Pennyburn Primary and Kilwinning Academy (North Ayrshire). He studied Geography at the University of Strathclyde, before heading across the city to complete a PhD at the University of Glasgow. Technically, the first in his family to go to university, he prefers to credit that family milestone to his mum who gained a teaching degree as a mature student at Craigie College of Education (now the University of the West of Scotland).
He is on the Child Poverty Programme Board and Scottish Attainment Challenge Programme Board and serves as a committee member on a number of anti-poverty initiatives and organisations.
Read more about John on the Commissioner for Fair Access (Scotland) website.
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