Rennie challenges SNP to set fair access test for Scottish universities

The Press Association reports:

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called on the Scottish Government to put a fair access policy in place, or extend the remit of the the Office of Fair Access north of the border. He said this would not only address the fair access gap for poorer students from England and Wales, but also improve the chances of Scottish students deciding to go to university.

Mr Rennie said: “With Scottish universities now able to set fees of up to £9,000 a year, and Edinburgh and St Andrews universities now the most expensive place to study in the UK, there remains real questions over the SNP Government’s commitment to fair access.

“OFFA in England and Wales make sure that access to university is based on the ability to learn by requiring that universities comply with strict fair access criteria. OFFA make sure there are plans in place to protect those who want to go university but feel they cannot afford it.

“I want to know why Scottish universities have been able to increase fees for students from the rest of the UK without even meeting the fair access requirements set by the UK Government. NUS Scotland have already raised concerns that access rates are lower in Scotland than the rest of the UK and I want the Education Secretary to consider having an Office of Fair Access in Scotland which all universities would fall under the jurisdiction of.”

As a result of the devolution settlement the Coalition’s tuition fees reforms — allowing universities to set fees of up to £9k repaid after graduation according to income — apply only in England: Scotland and Wales remain free to legislate on higher education.

But, as Willie points out, the result is that the supposedly more progressive government in Scotland has put no measures in place to assure fair access — either for English or Welsh students looking to apply to Scottish universities, or even for Scottish students themselves.

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This entry was posted in News and Scotland.
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