In Scotland, there are significant social inequalities in regards to access to higher education.
Students from the most disadvantaged households are less likely to enter higher education, and when they do, are more likely to go to college rather than university. Research suggests that several factors including poor academic performance and subject choice at secondary school account for this access gap.
Over the last two decades there have been various attempts to tackle the educational access gap associated with poverty in Scotland. A recent flagship approach has been the signing of outcome agreements between higher education institutions and the SFC/Scottish Government. This agreement commits universities and colleges to widen access and increase the proportion of students coming from areas of high deprivation.
Additionally, the SFC has funded the Schools for Higher Education Programme (SHEP) widening access initiatives to help quicken the pace of change. While modest progress has been observed with respect to the increase in number of disadvantaged students entering university and for those attending SHEP initiatives, it's not entirely clear what is facilitating this process.
As far as we're aware, there's currently no systematic documentation of evidence on what makes these programmes successful. Additionally, a starting point to quicken the pace of progress in Scotland is to examine evidence from the wider literature on ‘what works and why’, in order to widen access for disadvantaged students.
Funder - Scottish Funding Council Impact for Access Fund (£116, 314)