Buttle UK and NUS Scotland call for greater action on widening access in Scottish universities
24 October 2012
Buttle UK and NUS Scotland have come together for National Care Leavers Week 2012 to call on universities in Scotland to do more to widen access to higher education for Care Leavers.
A recent NUS Scotland FOI request1 found that a lot more needs to be done by some Scottish universities to improve fair access to higher education. Currently, 9 out of 17 universities in Scotland have, or are working towards, the Quality Mark and we would like to see more signing up to the award.
To mark National Care Leavers' Week, Alison Johnstone MSP lodged a motion with the Scottish Parliament on Monday which called on Parliament to encourage universities to do more to support access to higher education, especially for those with a looked-after background, and to encourage universities without the Quality Mark to aspire to achieve the award. The motion, Motion S4M-04517: Fair access to education for looked after children, can be found on the Scottish Parliament website.
Speaking at the start of National Care Leavers Week, Robin Parker, President of NUS Scotland, said:
“National Care Leavers week is a fantastic initiative, and one that NUS Scotland is proud to support. When the issue of access to higher education is high on everyone’s agenda, it’s vital that we use it as an opportunity to consider the tiny numbers of care leavers going on to access higher education, and how we can all work to turn this around.
“When just 2% of young people eligible for after care services access higher education,2 you know we’re getting something wrong. We know that universities can’t do it all to solve what are often really complex issues, but there’s much more we all could, and should, be doing. Examples like the Buttle UK Quality Mark are a great example of proactive efforts to tackle the severe underrepresentation of looked after young people in our universities, and every university should aspire to have it.
“The introduction of outcome agreements this year has put the issue of fair access at the forefront, and this is great. But as we develop them it’s vital that we look to broaden their scope, to ensure that all groups are being recognised, and reached out to. It’s clear that there is more the Scottish Government, universities, and others could be doing, and National Care Leavers Week should provide the kick-start we need.”
Buttle UK Chief Executive, Gerri McAndrew, said:
"Advancements in widening access by some Scottish universities remain relatively slow as highlighted by NUS Scotland’s FOI request in June1. It is vital therefore that we use National Care Leavers Week to raise awareness of the particular barriers that this cohort face in higher education and of the steps that can be taken to ensure they have just as good a chance to succeed as other students.
“The Buttle UK Quality Mark provides a framework within which institutions can assess and develop their provision for Care Leavers and validate the quality of support on offer. We are very proud of the work that those universities in Scotland that hold the award3 are doing and would like to see more Scottish universities sign up to improving and developing the support for students from care.
1. “Unlocking Scotland’s Potential”, NUS Scotland, http://www.nus.org.uk/en/campaigns/campaigns-in-scotland/priority/unlocking-scotland-potential/
2. “Children’s Social Work Statistics Scotland”, Scottish Government, http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0038/00388582.pdf
3. To find out which universities in Scotland currently hold the Quality Mark please see our list of Quality Mark institutions. To find out more about the Quality Mark please visit the Quality Mark pages or get in contact with us via email@example.com.