Written by Joanna Hughes

Recently published data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reveals that Scottish universities are making strides toward equal access in higher education. Here’s a closer look at the figures, along with what higher education leaders have to say about them, according to a Scottish Government press release.

On the Rise

Just under 16 percent of students entering Scottish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the 2017/2018 academic year were from the region's 20 percent most deprived areas. This falls just shy of the government’s target for 2021.

Enrollments also increased across a number of other measures between 2016/2018 and 2017/2018, including the total number of Scottish students (both undergraduate and graduate) enrolled at Scottish HEIs (1.2 percent); the total number of students enrolled at Scottish HEIs (2.1 percent); entrants to Scottish HEIs (3.2 percent), EU and non-EU domiciled enrollments (1.7 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively); and qualifiers from Scottish HEIs (2.4 percent).

Positive Progress

Scottish Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead praised the improvements, “These statistics highlight the good progress being made on widening access to higher education. I'm pleased to see more Scots going to university here and a record increase in entrants from our most deprived areas. [...] Combined with recent UCAS statistics, this shows demonstrable progress towards giving every young person in Scotland an equal chance of success, no matter their background or circumstance,” he said.

The data also indicates Scotland is on track toward reaching the targets set following the Commission on Widening Access, including that by 2021 and 2030, respectively, a full 16 percent and 20 percent of students entering Scottish HEIs will be from its most deprived backgrounds.

Lochhead also heralded the general trend of increasing enrollments, “It is also great to see a record number of enrollments and an increased number of qualifications achieved in 2017/2018. All of this speaks to the level of excellence found across our higher education institutions.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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