Access Delivery Group meeting: August 2017

Minutes and papers relating to the first meeting of the Access Delivery Group.

Attendees and apologies


  • Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education & Science (Chair)
  • Susan Stewart, Open University in Scotland
  • Prof Sally Mapstone, University of St Andrews
  • Alastair Sim, Universities Scotland
  • Linda Somerville, NUS Scotland
  • Jodie Waite, NUS Scotland
  • Liz McIntyre, North East College Scotland
  • Peter MacLeod, Renfrewshire Council
  • Jim Thewliss, School Leaders Scotland
  • Stephanie McKendry, Framework Development Group (substituting for Conor Ryan)
  • Fiona Brown, Forth Valley College; (substituting for Ken Thomson)
  • Prof Peter Scott, Commissioner for Fair Access (observer)
  • Lynn Graham, Scottish Government
  • Laura Duffy, Scottish Government
  • Lynn MacKinnon, Scottish Government (secretariat)
  • Roddy MacDonald, Scottish Government
  • Murray McVicar, Scottish Government
  • Elaine Drennan, Scottish Government (substituting for Audrey MacDougall)
  • Kate Higgins, Scottish Government (observer)
  • Carole Teale, Scottish Government (observer)
  • Michael Cross, Scottish Funding Council
  • Fiona.Burns, Scottish Funding Council


  • Professor Petra Wend, Queen Margaret University
  • Conor Ryan, Sutton Trust
  • Dr Ken Thomson, Forth Valley College
  • Katie Burke, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Audrey MacDougall, Scottish Government

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions

The Chair introduced herself, welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for agreeing to participate in the Delivery Group. The Chair also conveyed apologies for those unable to attend and welcomed substitute members.

2. Purpose and structure of the Delivery Group


The paper tabled was noted. It set out the current membership of the group. The Chair clarified that the Commissioner for Fair Access would attend meetings as an ‘observer’. The Chair also invited comments on the current membership of the group and it was suggested that a representative of primary schools could be a positive addition to the current membership. It was agreed that this would be considered.

Terms of Reference

The paper tabled was noted. It provided draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Group. The Chair invited feedback on the paper and discussion followed. Attainment was suggested as a key issue which could be acknowledged in the TOR. It was agreed that this would be considered. The Chair noted that as other groups are considering this issue the Delivery Group could be cognizant of wider work without focusing on it in detail.

Broader discussion included suggestions from members that there is a need to engage with the youngest children and families on access, as well as considering the needs and role of part-time and mature students.

Structure and scheduling of meetings

The Chair invited feedback on the paper tabled, which set out a schedule and focus for future meetings. Members agreed that meetings should be planned around emerging themes, milestones and outputs. It was suggested that wider work on related areas, such as tertiary education and the attainment gap could be considered at a future meeting.

Members highlighted that it would be beneficial to have the November meeting date confirmed as soon as possible to ensure the Universities Scotland leads are available to attend. It was agreed that it would be timely to focus on the output of Universities Scotland work streams at the November meeting and the Commissioner for Fair Access’ Annual Report at the February meeting. The Chair informed the Group that further suggestions for meeting topics could be fed back to SG officials.

Action 1: Consideration to be given to suggested additional member of the group. [Chair and SG Officials]
Action 2: Consideration to be given to addressing attainment in the terms of reference [Chair and SG Officials].
Action 3: Circulate dates for the November meeting date as soon as possible [SG Officials]

Paper: Schedule and focus of future meetings

November 2017 Universities Scotland: outcomes of workstreams
February 2018 Commissioner for Fair Access annual report
May 2018 TBC
August 2018 TBC

Member updates

The Chair invited Universities Scotland workstream leads to provide an update on progress on the three work streams, admissions, articulation and bridging programmes. This was followed by an update from the Commissioner

3. Coordinating and monitoring delivery

The paper tabled, which set out lead delivery partners for each of the recommendations made by the Commission on Widening Access, was noted. SG officials invited members to confirm if they were content that the recommendation leads assigned by the CoWA within their recommendations, were appropriate. This was agreed. More detailed discussion followed on recommendations where no single lead was identified by the CoWA (i.e. Recommendations 4, 17 and 18), however no clear conclusion on who the recommendation leads for these was reached. In terms of the broader discussion the following key points were noted:

  • some leads seem intrinsic but it is important to establish how recommendations will be tackled in practice;
  • specific names are needed as leads; e.g. ‘the education system’ is not helpful. Different parts of the education need to be accountable. Institutions are accountable to the SFC via Outcome Agreements if they’re funded; otherwise, positive conversations need to be promoted via relationships with schools and Universities;
  • schools could contribute more to recommendations 14 and 15
  • colleges should to be included in Recommendation 20

Action 4: Discuss recommendation 4 and the Learning for All replacement publication with the SFC [SG officials].
Action 5: Consider how best to update members on the Learner Journey work [SG officials].
Action 6: Reflect on how best to keep Government colleagues updated on the Group’s progress and improve cross-departmental working [SG officials].

The Group went on to discuss the next steps with monitoring progress including the development of core information on each recommendation e.g. timescales, key activities and indicators of success. The following points were noted:

  • lead-in times need to be realistic – for example 18 months’ notice is required for prospectuses
  • recommendation leads need to flag any issues and slippage in delivery timings as soon as possible and expect to be challenged
  • a clear set of measures – KPIs, outcomes etc - will be developed over time

Action 7: Circulate a template, setting out key questions, to be completed for each recommendation, by the recommendation lead, and arrange follow-up meetings to discuss these in advance of the next meeting. [SG officials]

4. AOB

The Chair invited SG officials from Education Analytical Services Division to provide an update on progress in relation to CoWA recommendations: The following key points were noted:

  • work is in progress with Early Years policy colleagues to develop the Unique Learner Number, which will be a long-term piece of work
  • related discussions about the Scottish Candidate Number are underway with SQA
  • in order to progress beyond SIMD as a measure, ASD is looking at information on free school meals

A note of the meeting will be placed on the SG website.

Action 8: Draft a paper for the next meeting on information gathered on recommendations [SG officials].
Action 9: Consider KPIs for some recommendations before the next meeting [SG officials].

5. Date of next meeting

The next meeting will take place in November and any dates to avoid should be fed back to SG officials. The Chair thanked members for their participation then closed the meeting.

Access Delivery Group - meeting agenda August 2017.pdf
Access Delivery Group - Meeting 1 - Membership.pdf



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