Commissioner for Fair Access

Professor John McKendrick



Commissioner for Fair Access
7th Floor Atlantic Quay
Scottish Government
150 Broomielaw
G2 8LU

Tel: 0300 244 1338

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

Related policies


Speeches and presentations


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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