Commissioner for Fair Access appointed

Professor Peter Scott will lead work on widening access to higher education.

Renowned educationalist Professor Peter Scott has been appointed Commissioner for Fair Access to Higher Education in Scotland.

He will be an advocate for disadvantaged learners, working across the education system to provide strategic leadership and drive change across the system.

Professor Scott’s appointment is part of a wider range of work aimed at ensuring that, by 2030, students from the 20% most deprived communities will represent 20% of entrants to Scottish universities.

It is one of 34 recommendations made by the independent Widening Access Commission which the Scottish Government has committed to implement in full.

During a visit to Glasgow University with Professor Scott, Minister for Further and Higher Education and Science Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Professor Scott has impeccable credentials to fulfil this role and a strong passion for widening access to higher education. I am delighted he will be leading on this area of work and look forward to the new and challenging perspective he will bring to the role.

“We are very clear that a child born in our poorest communities should, by the time they leave school, have the same chance of going to university as a child born in our wealthiest communities. That is what we are determined to achieve.

“Figures earlier this week showed the highest ever entry rate to our universities for 18 year olds from our 20% most deprived areas. This is extremely welcome news, but we remain committed to making further and faster progress on fairer access to higher education for all.”

Professor Scott said:

“It is a great honour, and challenge, to be appointed Commissioner for Fair Access. The greatest challenge facing all Higher Education systems in the world is how to remove barriers to fair access, and reduce the glaring inequalities in participation between haves and have-nots.

“These inequalities undermine our efforts to build a high-skill economy and, more fundamentally, deny individuals the opportunities that should be available to all citizens in a democracy.

“I look forward very much to working with universities, colleges and schools as well as the Scottish Funding Council and Scottish Government to address these challenges.”


Peter Scott is Professor of Higher Education studies at University College London. Before that he was Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University and Pro Vice-Chancellor for external affairs at the University of Leeds. He was a member of the board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England where he chaired its widening participation strategic committee.

His earlier career was spent in journalism and he was Editor of the Times Higher Education.

Professor Scott was knighted in 2007 for services to education and is the recipient of a number of honorary degrees. He has published widely on education, including widening access issues.

UCAS figures published yesterday record the highest ever entry rate to Scottish universities for 18 year olds from Scotland’s 20% most deprived areas. Since 2006, the rate has increased by 3.7 percentage points to 10.9%.

Further background, including photographs of the ministerial visit and case studies of students who have benefitted from widening access programmes will be available here -


Media enquiries

Back to top