Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

Seminar - Widening Access to Scottish Higher Education: Getting in and Getting on (1.12.2015)

Widening access seminar image

The Scottish White Paper on independence argued that ‘free education for those able to benefit is a core part of Scotland’s educational tradition and the values that underpin our educational system. One of the major achievements of devolved government in Scotland has been to restore this right to Scottish domiciled undergraduate students’ (Scottish Government 2013, p.198). Despite the Scottish Government’s frequent affirmation of its commitment to social justice principles, there has recently been a recognition of the need for much firmer action to tackle the social class gap in higher education participation, reflecting wider social inequalities in Scotland.  In a recent policy statement, Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, commented: ‘… a child born today in one of our most deprived communities should have no less a chance of entering higher education than a child born in one of our least deprived. We want every child – whatever their background – to have an equal chance of attending university’. In order to identify the action needed to ensure that 20% of university students are drawn from the most socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods (as measured by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation), the Scottish Government has set up a Widening Access Commission to report in 2016.  The papers during the course of this seminar will provide evidence to inform the debate on widening access to higher education in Scotland.

At the event, we launched our book: Higher Education in Scotland and the UK: Diverging or Converging Systems Edited by Sheila Riddell, Elisabet Weedon and Sarah Minty Edinburgh University Press.

Watch the recorded streaming video of this seminar on our YouTube channel.

Anyone who wish to tweet during the seminar may do so discreetly using the hashtag #CREIDWA.

A blog post about the seminar by Dr Hazel Christie, Institute for Academic Development, University of Edinburgh.


Chair: Professor Jim Gallacher, Emeritus Professor of Lifelong Learning, Glasgow Caledonian University

Biographies of our chair, speakers and discussants

Time Description Speaker(s)/Venue
09.30 – 10.00 Registration  
10.00 – 10.15 Introduction Professor Sheila Riddell and Professor Jim Gallacher
10.15 – 10.30 How fair is access to Scottish higher education? Scottish, UK and European comparisons Professor Sheila Riddell, CREID, University of Edinburgh
10.30 – 10.45 Getting into higher education: Young people’s views of fairness Sarah Minty, CREID, University of Edinburgh
10.45 – 11.00 How does student finance affect widening access?: Cross-UK comparisons Lucy Hunter Blackburn, University of Edinburgh
11.00 – 11.15 Questions  
11.15 – 11.30 Coffee break

Tea and coffee will be served

11:30 – 12:15 Panel discussion
  • Kathleen Hood, Head of Widening Participation, University of Edinburgh;
  • David Bass, Equality Challenge Unit;
  • Ali Jarvis, Chair of Scottish Funding Council Access and Inclusion committee;
  • Calum Mackie and Ian Anderson, students
12.15 – 13.00 Lunch  
13.00– 13.15 Widening access to higher education for disabled students: intersections of disability, social class and gender Dr Elisabet Weedon, CREID, University of Edinburgh
13.15 – 13.30 Access to higher education in rural communities Dr Laurence Lasselle, University of St Andrews
13.30 – 13.45 Questions  
13.45 – 14.00 Relationships Matter: the Views of College Entrants to an Ancient Scottish University Professor Viv Cree, Dr Hazel Christie and Professor Lyn Tett, University of Edinburgh
14.00 – 14.15  School subject choice and university entrance Professor Cristina Iannelli, University of Edinburgh
14.15 – 15.00  Questions and plenary discussion  

Press coverage

2nd Dec 2015
3rd Dec 2015

Related publications

Special issue in Scottish Educational Review (2016) 48:1

Related projects

Higher Education in Scotland, the Devolution Settlement and the Referendum on Independence

Attracting diversity: Identifying underrepresented groups

The Evidence Base behind Widening Access to University Education

Research into widening participation at the University of Edinburgh: the student’s perspective

Related events

Presentation to Scottish Government Widening Access Commission (2.9.2015)

Higher Education and Social Class: Scotland in Comparative Perspective (31.05.2016)


Dec 01 2015 -

Seminar - Widening Access to Scottish Higher Education: Getting in and Getting on (1.12.2015)

The papers during the course of this seminar provided evidence to inform the debate on widening access to higher education in Scotland.

Room 5.11, Charteris Land, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh