Higher education - renewing the alliance for fair access: annual report 2024

The sixth annual report of the Commissioner for Fair Access concludes that much has already been achieved in delivering fair access to higher education in Scotland, but Professor John H. McKendrick considers how the framework for promoting fair access can be strengthened.


This is my first report as Commissioner for Fair Access, and the sixth Commissioner report since the Scottish Government acted on the recommendation of the Commission on Widening Access (CoWA) to appoint a Commissioner to provide impartial policy advice to develop best practice, improve the evidence base, and hold to account all those with a role in advancing fair access to higher education.

I believe that fair access is a goal worth pursuing. I have no doubt that there continues to be untapped potential that is not being realised. My measured opinion is that we can achieve fair access, but that the challenge cannot be under-estimated.

Having completed 111 meetings in 2023, I am grateful to far too many people to mention individually in a short foreword. However, I wish to acknowledge that the time afforded to me over the last twelve months by busy practitioners, office holders, and sector leaders has been greatly appreciated. I own the recommendations and the priorities that are outlined in this report, but these have been shaped by the thinking and practice of many.

Although I refrain from thanking individuals, I make one exception. Those concerned to promote fair access to higher education in Scotland owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Sir Peter Scott for his work over the last five years. Although always keen to credit the work of others, the same would acknowledge that we are much closer to achieving fair access as a direct result of his guidance, encouragement, and recommendations.

I end this foreword with a simple commitment. I will endeavour to match your commitment to fashion a nation in which those with ability, and potential ability, from Scotland's most disadvantaged backgrounds can realise their potential through higher education.

Professor John H. McKendrick

Commissioner for Fair Access


Email: Clara.Pirie@gov.scot

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