A report showing UK universities have failed to widen access shows why the Post 16 Education Bill – which will widen access to university for students from poorer backgrounds in Scotland for generations to come – is a vital step forward for a fairer Scotland.

Higher Education: the Fair Access Challenge report shows that while UK universities as a whole have become less socially representative in the past decade, Glasgow University has the second highest percentage (behind only Queen’s in Belfast) number of state educated students and Edinburgh University boasts the largest climb in state educated students since 2002/03.

This report comes on the back of last week’s announcement from Scotland’s 19 universities committing to over 700 widening access places to attract more students from the most deprived areas of the country.

In welcoming this report Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson said:
“This report shows the trend emerging from the different paths the Scottish and UK governments are taking – and reinforces the Scottish Government’s commitment to legislating to ensure wider access.

“In Scotland ground-breaking legislation will reinforce the commitment from Scotland’s universities to play their part in widening access to universities. It is essential that university is an option for all of Scotland’s young people – regardless of their background, which will assist those from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds in the Falkirk area in fulfilling their potential.

“Labour must ditch their opposition to the Post 16 Education Bill, anything less is a vote against wider access.

“In addition the Scottish Government is committed to keeping university tuition free for Scottish students to ensure as many of our young people as possible can benefit from higher education and the introduction of a minimum income guarantee of £7,250 per year is helping students support themselves through their studies. Along with Widening Access Agreements this series of measures will solidify equal opportunities in education for generations to come in Scotland.”