Final report of the Access Data Short-Life Working Group

The Access Data Short-life Working Group (SLWG) was formed to consider possible data sources to complement SIMD. This report is the output of that group.

Purpose and objectives of the group

In light of a) the various calls for exploring further, individual-level measures of deprivation, and b) the previous work undertaken by the ADWG, the Access Data SLWG was created to progress the recommendations of CoWA, the ADWG, and the previous Commissioner.

The Access Data SLWG was formed to consider whether specific individual-level data sources could be used alongside the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) as part of a “basket” of widening access measures. The group agreed two initial priorities: to ensure that any objectives were achievable in a relatively short timeframe and to allow any data sources to be fully considered in terms of practical implementation.

Based on prior experience of the ADWG, calls from sector representatives to explore FSM data, and capacity, the decision was taken to focus initially on data relating to school leavers. This allowed the group to investigate a potential new data source of relevance to school leavers – Scottish Child Payment – which was not available when the previous ADWG met.

Objectives – initial phase

The objectives of the initial phase of the Access Data SLWG were to:

  • Investigate whether Free School Meals (FSM) data continues to be a suitable proxy measure of deprivation;
  • Investigate the suitability of Scottish Child Payment (SCP) data as a potential proxy measure of deprivation;
  • Investigate the viability of both data sources, their possible interaction with existing measures, and the practical implementation of each measure (including verification of data if required); and
  • Produce a final report for the Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment & Training – latterly the Minister for Higher and Further Education; and Minister for Veterans – and the main Access Delivery Group as to the findings of the group and recommendations for next steps.

Adult learners – a later phase

The group acknowledged that the above objectives contribute primarily to better identification of widening access school leavers, and did not contribute equally to supporting access to university for adult learners or returners. Latest HESA data show that 30% of full-time first degree Scottish entrants to Scottish Universities are aged 21 and over, while 18% are aged 25 or over. As such, it was proposed that a later iteration of the SLWG considered the data requirements to better identify older widening access students.



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