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ERIC Number: ED574424
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-May
Pages: 104
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Access in Scotland: Access to Higher Education for People from Less Advantaged Backgrounds in Scotland
Blackburn, Lucy Hunter; Kadar-Satat, Gitit; Riddell, Sheila; Weedon, Elisabet
Sutton Trust
Access to universities across the United Kingdom remains a challenge despite improvements in recent years. Those challenges are still more marked in Scotland than in the other nations, as this report shows. This report lays bare the extent of the challenge. Scotland has a different approach to higher education. It no longer charges tuition fees, and as a result it retains a cap on student places that has been removed in England. However, not only is the access gap still wider in Scotland, what progress there has been has largely been through sub-degree places in colleges. This research analyzes the current state of play for widening access to higher education in Scotland, drawing comparisons with other parts of the UK where possible. It provides an analysis of: (1) widening access policy levers; (2) Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) headline data on applications, acceptances, and entry rates by students from different social backgrounds across the UK; (3) higher education initial participation rates (HEIPR) in Scotland and the rest of the UK; (4) UK differences in participation rates with regard to type of university and social background using Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data; (5) cross-UK institutional comparisons using HESA benchmarks; and (6) widening participation activity and debates in Scottish higher education institutions, particularly the ancient universities. Interviews with Scottish policy-makers showed that there was strong support for the principles of widening access. Overall, Scottish universities' efforts to widen access for students from poorer backgrounds have achieved only partial success. It is not evident from the data that divergence in fee policy has given Scotland any specific advantage compared to other parts of the UK in relation to increasing overall levels of participation or participation by more disadvantaged groups. Improvements in participation have been largely driven by the growth of college Higher National provision in which students from poorer backgrounds are over-represented. This is because the supply of university places in Scotland has not kept pace with rising demand and increased competition for university places, particularly in the most selective universities, has had a disproportionately negative effect on students from the most deprived backgrounds. The following are appended: (1) UCAS Data Tables; (2) Calculating the Higher Education Initial Participation Rate; and (3) Detailed Sampling Strategy.
Sutton Trust. 9th Floor Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London SW1P 4QP. Tel: +44-20-7802-1660; E-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Sutton Trust (England); University of Edinburgh (Scotland), Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Scotland); United Kingdom (England); United Kingdom (Northern Ireland); United Kingdom (Wales)