A Blueprint for Fairness: Final Report of the Commission on Widening Access

A Blueprint for Fairness presents a system wide plan to achieve equal access to higher education.

Agenda For The Future

Between us, the thirteen members of the Commission, have been involved in many similar projects and working groups. However we are agreed that few of these have matched the breadth and challenging timescale of this work. To maximise the value of our contribution, the Commission therefore made a decision to focus our efforts on fair access to the core provision of higher education (i.e. full-time first degree study) for those from socioeconomically deprived backgrounds or those with a care experience.

This has meant, to our regret, that there a number of areas which we have simply not had the time to examine in detail. Examples include:

  • Outcomes for disadvantaged learners following graduation, including access to postgraduate study.
  • Additional barriers faced by people with protected characteristics.
  • Additional barriers for carers, former offenders and young people leaving the armed forces.
  • Access to the high demand degree subjects (e.g. medicine).
  • Access to HE for those from rural areas.
  • Access to part-time HE study.

No doubt some of the recommendations within this report will assist other groups of learners and it is important that those implementing them do so in a way that recognises this, for example, new data systems to track and monitor progress could also support enhanced analysis of access for those with protected characteristics.

However, these groups of learners and areas of study are important and the recommendation below is intended to ensure they are not lost sight of as Scotland enters the next phase of this work.

This is our Blueprint for Fairness - a system wide plan for fair access in Scotland. The proposals in this report are demanding but achievable and mark the beginning of the next phase of strategic change. It is our firm belief that they can deliver equal access within a generation.

Recommendation 33: The Commissioner for Fair Access should:

  • consider what further work is required to support equal access for other groups of learners and within specific degree subjects.
  • consider what further work is required to support equal outcomes after study for those from disadvantaged backgrounds or with a care experience.

Recommendation 34: The Scottish Government should report on progress against the recommendations it accepts from this report, 12 months after issuing its response. Thereafter, progress towards equal access should be reported on annually by the Commissioner for Fair Access.


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