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Scottish Government Debate: Widening Access - Equality of Access to Higher Education

Tuesday 26 March 2024 4:00 PM


Graeme Dey S6M-12642 That the Parliament notes the recent report by the Commissioner on Fair Access; welcomes the progress that has been made to widen access to university, with a 45% increase in students from the most deprived communities entering university since 2013-14; is grateful for the work of the higher education sector in achieving this success; agrees with the commissioner’s finding that increasing the share of students from the most deprived areas has not led to fewer students progressing to higher education from less deprived areas; reaffirms its commitment to widening access and to meeting the 2026 interim target and the 2030 target, which it agrees will require concerted effort from government and institutions to meet this challenge; agrees that it is vital that higher education continues to be based on the ability to learn rather than the ability to pay, and further agrees that undergraduate students in Scotland should not be expected to pay any form of tuition fees, whether up front or in the form of charges during their course or after graduation, such as graduate endowments or graduate taxes. Liam Kerr S6M-12642.1 As an amendment to motion S6M-12642 in the name of Graeme Dey (Widening Access - Equality of Access to Higher Education), leave out from ", and further" to end and insert "; acknowledges that a cap on university places for Scottish domiciled students exists due to the Scottish Government’s underfunding of Scotland’s institutions; condemns the decision to cut at least a further 1,200 university places for Scottish domiciled students next year, and calls on the Scottish Government to recognise that the current funding model is unsustainable, and that it needs to build a consensus around an optimum model that commands broad public support to end the underfunding of Scotland’s universities and ensures that world-leading university education can be offered to all who want it, regardless of means and background." Pam Duncan-Glancy S6M-12642.2 As an amendment to motion S6M-12642 in the name of Graeme Dey (Widening Access – Equality of Access to Higher Education), insert at end "; notes the Scottish Government’s own Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement accompanying the 2024-25 budget, which warns of 'a significant risk that the reduction in the HE resource budget will increase competition for remaining university places, which could disadvantage learners from socio-economically disadvantaged areas with lower prior attainment'; understands that this funding crisis extends to the whole tertiary education sector, with Audit Scotland noting that it will be 'difficult for colleges to balance delivering high-quality learning at the volume expected while contributing to other Scottish Government priorities'; calls on the Scottish Government to set out its plans to meet its commitment in the 2023-24 Programme for Government to lead development of a new post-16 education funding model, and believes that a sustainably funded tertiary education sector is crucial to the future of Scotland."

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