Scotland's universities are amongst the best in the world. We want every child, no matter their background, to have an equal chance of entering and succeeding in higher education.
By 2030, we want 20% of students entering university to be from Scotland's 20% most deprived backgrounds.
The focus of our work is on helping more people from disadvantaged backgrounds enter higher education. We:
- have kept access to university education free of tuition fees for Scottish domiciled and EU students
- are providing financial support to students, particularly those who need it most, as well as carrying out a review of the support system to ensure it is fair and effective
- have appointed an independent commissioner for fair access to help drive change across the system and develop a framework for fair access to share best practice
- are supporting a range of initiatives aimed at widening access to higher education as well as setting targets for individual universities through the Scottish Funding Council
- are helping more students from deprived backgrounds gain a place to study medicine and, following a successful first year, have reaffirmed this commitment
- have set up an Access Delivery Group to help ensure the whole education system works together and to monitor progress in implementing the 34 recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access
- we are working with partners through the Equally Safe in Further and Higher Education Working Group to ensure universities are safe places to study
- established the Gender Equality in Education and Learning Taskforce to identify measures to address gender inequality
We are also:
- creating greater openness and transparency in the way universities are run through the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016
- investing in university research and innovation
- supporting the internationalisation work of Scotland's universities
- reviewing the learner journey for 15 to 24 year olds to ensure the education system is as effective and efficient as possible
The 2014 to 2015 Programme for Government stated our aim that every child, irrespective of background, should have an equal chance of accessing higher education.
We set up the Commission on Widening Access to advise us on the steps necessary to achieve this.
A Blueprint for Fairness: the final report of the Commission on Widening Access was published in March 2016 and made 34 recommendations covering the whole education system. We accepted these in full and published Implementing A Blueprint for Fairness: progress report in May 2017.
Scotland has 19 autonomous higher education institutions which are represented by Universities Scotland. We fund these through the Scottish Funding Council.
The following higher education institutions in Scotland have degree awarding powers, and are recognised bodies:
- University of Aberdeen
- Abertay University
- University of Dundee
- University of Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Napier University
- University of Glasgow
- Glasgow Caledonian University
- Heriot-Watt University
- University of the Highlands and Islands
- The Open University in Scotland
- Queen Margaret University
- Robert Gordon University
- Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
- University of St Andrews
- University of Stirling
- University of Strathclyde
- University of the West of Scotland
The following higher education institutions in Scotland do not have degree awarding powers, however they do have validation arrangements with other degree awarding bodies:
Recognised bodies based elsewhere in the UK with degree awarding power:
- Northern Ireland
Bills and legislation
The Education (Recognised Bodies) (Scotland) Order 2018 is a list of bodies authorised by Royal Charter or Act of Parliament to grant degrees. The Education (Listed Bodies) (Scotland) Order 2018 is a list of bodies authorised to provide courses in preparation for degrees to be awarded by recognised bodies and/or are a constituent college, school, hall or institution of a university which is such a recognised body.
The Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016 put in place measures to improve and modernise the governance of higher education institutions.
To access information that was on the previous website see the archive of universities content
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