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Wider university access sought

05/10/2012

Students from deprived backgrounds can help maximise their potential by getting involved with schemes to widen access to university courses.

Figures show that since 2001, only 17.4 per cent of first year students who entered Glasgow University through their Top-Up Scheme dropped out of their courses, less than those from more affluent areas.

This builds on information from the Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS), showing that over 60 per cent of students they support make it on to a university course.

These figures underline why further moves are being made by the Scottish Government to widen access to Scottish universities.

Education Secretary Michael Russell said:

“The Scottish Government has been clear that education in Scotland should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay and we are committed to widening access to Higher Education via the Post 16 Reform Bill, which will be introduced later in the year.

“I recently wrote a letter of guidance to the Scottish Funding Council setting out priorities for investment in further and higher education institutions. I have asked the Council to work with our world-renowned universities to strengthen the efforts they are already making on access, including the possibility of increasing the number of students they fund.

“This move should be seen as part of the return for the continuing high level of investment in Scottish higher education, and should also open up opportunities for hundreds of young people to fulfil their potential, when they may not otherwise have the chance to.

“The figures I am highlighting today clearly demonstrate the value of giving students from more deprived backgrounds the chance to play a full part in Scottish education, thus improving their employability and helping drive the economy forward.”

Glasgow University research showed that that students who entered university through its Top-Up access programme have higher progression rates into second year than students entering from state schools in more affluent areas with a culture of sending a higher number of students to university. 18.1 per cent of those students dropped out compared to only 17.4 per cent of those from more deprived areas.

The Top-Up programme is designed to help S5 and S6 school pupils in deprived areas across the West of Scotland who are planning to enter higher education after school, or are considering that option. Top-Up prepares pupils for the transition from school to university or college and helps them to make informed choices about their future.  Top Up is an element of FOCUS West which works in 30 schools in the West of Scotland and is part of the SFC’s Schools for Higher Education programme. 

The Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS) supports talented young people in south east Scotland, providing them with information and encouragement to apply to higher education. This includes delivering the Schools for Higher Education Programme with selected schools in Edinburgh and Lothians, Forth Valley and the Scottish Borders. In total, they work with 59 state secondary schools in the region, targeting young people with little or no family experience of higher education or those who may have experienced adverse social and/or economic circumstances. Latest figures show that more than 60 per cent supported through their pre-application interview process make it onto a university course.

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